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  • Chiu, J.L. & Linn, M.C. (2013) Supporting knowledge integration in chemistry with a visualization-enhanced inquiry unit. J. Sci. Educ. Technol., DOI 10.1007/s10956-013-9449-5.  Published on-line April, 2013. 


Chiu and Linn describe the design and evaluation of an inquiry-based simulation and visualization software system that is intended to improve the learning of basic concepts of chemical reaction mechanisms at the molecular level.  The “Chemical Scene Investigators” unit described in this paper is implemented using the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE), an open-source software package for developing on-line inquiry-based exercises, and is intended for high school chemistry students.  I think that the design of inquiry-based exercises using this software system and the extensive series of evaluation procedures employed in this study warrant further investigation, as a similar approach may help with my project. 


  • Haak, D.C., HilleRisLambers, J., Pitre, E. & Freeman, S. (2011) Increased structure and active learning reduce the achievement gap in introductory biology. Science, 332, 1213-1216. 


This article shows how the replacement of passive, lecture-based teaching with a highly structured, student-centred, problem-solving learning environment provides benefits to all students, including particular benefits for less well prepared students, in a large-enrollment introductory biology course.  An especially impressive aspect of this study is that the improvements in learning outcomes were achieved without increasing financial resources, reducing class sizes or increasing class time.  I am encouraged by the approaches used by these researchers and am curious as to whether a similar approach in my project can provide similarly impressive benefits to more advanced students in second-year genetics and biochemistry courses facing somewhat different challenges. 


  • Hoskinson, A.-M., Caballero, M.D. & Knight, J.K. (2013) How can we improve problem solving in undergraduate biology? Applying lessons from 30 years of physics education research. CBE-LSE, 12, 153-161. 


This perspective essay emphasizes the importance of problem-solving in physics education and suggests that biology education would benefit from many of the lessons learned from the focus on problem-solving in physics, even though the nature of problems in biology and physics can appear to differ in structure and content.  I am intrigued at the possible benefits that could be obtained from the cross-fertilization of ideas from educators in different disciplines of science and was interested to read that the development and evaluation of problem-solving approaches in physics can provide many important lessons to biologists.  Many of these lessons seem relevant to the problem-solving approaches that I want to implement and evaluate in my project. 


  • Stevens, R. & Palacio-Cayetano, J. (2003) Design and performance frameworks for constructing problem-solving simulations. Cell Biol. Educ., 2, 162-179. 


Stevens at UCLA has led the development of the IMMEX (Interactive Multi-Media Exercises) project over the past fifteen years.  This paper outlines the design and evaluation of this software platform, which fosters the development of problem-solving simulations in biology and medicine.  The design of this project emphasizes cognitive considerations as opposed to technological capabilities.  The emphasis is on designing and evaluating a learning environment and framework that fosters problem-solving and allows for the objective evaluation of performance in learners.  Because the IMMEX project provides one of the most thoroughly documented and extensively evaluated software platforms for developing and evaluating problem-solving simulations, I am interested in exploring further both the specific implementation of problem-solving simulations relating to biochemistry and genetics, as well as the broader conceptual framework underlying the design and implementation of simulations. 


  • Tanner, K. (2010).  Order matters: using the 5E model to align teaching with how people learn. CBE-LSE, 9, 159-164. 


The 5E model originally formulated by Bybee and colleagues is reviewed and applied towards introductory biology in this thoughtful and practical article.  Because I strongly believe in the value of the principles outlined in the 5E model, I have designed my project with the 5E model in mind.  I feel in particular that three of the “E’s” (engage, explore and elaborate) are critical to the student-centred, interactive and inquiry-based features central to the design of my project.  This is an overview paper that attempts to explain the 5E model and to show how it can be effectively used in a wide variety of situations. 

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