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A234 Langley Hall

Department of Biological Sciences

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

curtok@pitt.edu

412-624-4832

 

 

Revised abstract submitted on March 2nd

Aligning an Instructional Approach to Support a Learning Goal: Integrating Lectures and Assignments to Reinforce the Integrative Nature of Cell Signaling 

K. A. Curto, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
 
 

General biology textbook explanations of cell signaling from ligand to effector promote a perception of signaling as a simple linear pathway.  I hypothesized that instruction and assignments incorporating an interactive "pattern" would alter this perception toward one of integrating signals that modulate cell function.  On day 1 of the semester, I evaluated freshman biology students' (N=25) prior understanding of cell signaling.  Their choice of analogy:  baseball diamond (7), tree (5), racetrack (4), straight pathway (2), or none (7) showed mixed impressions of signaling as sequential, circular or divergent.  Eighty-four percent rated their understanding of signaling as "fair" or "lacking."  The average score from 12 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) on signaling terms was 2.60 (+ 1.35).  In week 5, I lectured on cell signaling emphasizing interactions among signaling modules (cross talk) as a realistic model.  A "near-peer" graduate student discussed her C. elegans signaling research using a home plumbing analogy to clarify cross talk results. A review article on signaling interactions with "what-if-this-changed questions," was assigned.  A concept map exercise required students to clarify drug treatment outcomes by diagramming intracellular signal interactions.  The review article, its questions and the concept maps were the basis for recitation discussion.  In a post-course (week 15) survey, analogy choices more indicative of networks appeared: tree (10), baseball diamond (4), pathway (2), while 8 described their own analogy using terms such as "web, crisscrossing, net, intersect and crosstalk."  Sixty-four percent of students now rated their knowledge of signaling as excellent or good (32% as fair). The MCQs score rose to a mean of 9.44 (+ 1.47), a significant improvement (paired-sample t-test p<0.001).  Student recall of signaling terminology and an appreciation of its network-like character improved following multiple lecture messages, reading with application type questions on interactions and a problem solving assignment with a solution format, the concept map, that mimicked the interacting signal learning goal. 

  

Karen Curto, 412-624-4832, curtok@pitt.edu 

 

 

 

Aligning an Instructional Approach to Support a Learning Goal: Integrating Lectures and Assignments to Reinforce the Integrative Nature of Cell Signaling 

K. A. Curto, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
 

When I relied on textbook explanations of cell signaling as a progression from ligand to effector, my freshman biology students perceived signaling as a single linear mechanism.  To foster the appreciation that signals integrate to modulate cell function, I revised my instruction and assignments with an interactive "pattern" in mind.  On day 1 of the semester, I evaluated students' (N=25) prior understanding of cell signaling.  Their choice of analogy:  baseball diamond (7), tree (5), racetrack (4), straight pathway (2), or none (7) showed mixed perceptions of signaling as sequential, circular or integrative.  Eighty-four percent rated their understanding of signaling as "fair" or "lacking."  The average score from 12 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) on signaling terms was 2.60 (+ 1.35). In week 5, I lectured on cell signaling emphasizing interactions among signaling modules (cross talk) as a realistic model.  I assigned a review article on signaling interactions and "what-if-this-changed questions" based on the article's described interactions.  A "near-peer" graduate student talked about her C. elegans signaling research using a home plumbing analogy to clarify cross talk results.  A handout on concept map construction with examples supported their diagrammatic solutions of a hypertension drug treatment problem.  The article with its questions and their diagrams were a basis for recitation discussion.  At the end of the course (week 15), analogy choices more indicative of networks appeared: tree (10), baseball diamond (4), pathway (2), while 8 described their own analogy using terms such as "web, crisscrossing, net, intersect and crosstalk."  Sixty-four percent of students now rated their knowledge of signaling as excellent or good (32% as fair). The MCQs score rose to a mean of 9.44 (+ 1.47), a significant improvement (paired-sample t-test p<0.001).  Student recall of signaling terminology and an appreciation of its network-like character improved following multiple lecture messages, reading with application type questions on interactions and a problem solving assignment whose solution mimicked the learning concept diagrammatically. 

  

Karen Curto, 412-624-4832, curtok@pitt.edu 

 

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Viewing 1 of 1 comments: view all
Can they come up with a general model of a cell signaling network? They would then be able to apply the general model to any situation, such as a disease state where one molecule is not functioning roperly. Perhaps they come up with the general model after reading the first paper and modify it as they read subsequent papers. By then end they will have a generally applicable general model.

Nice study.
Posted 17:10, 17 Jul 2009
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