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Using digital images of the zebra finch song system as a tool to teach organizational effects of steroid hormones: a free downloadable module.

Grisham W, Schottler NA, McCauley LM, Pham AP, Ruiz ML, Fong MC, Cui X - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Bottom Line: Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not.We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains.We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. grisham@lifesci.ucla.edu

ABSTRACT
Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not. The neural system underlying this behavior is sexually dimorphic, and this sex difference is easy to quantify. During development, the zebra finch song system can be altered by steroid hormones, specifically estradiol, which actually masculinizes it. Because of the ease of quantification and experimental manipulation, the zebra finch song system has great potential for use in undergraduate labs. Unfortunately, the underlying costs prohibit use of this system in undergraduate labs. Further, the time required to perform a developmental study renders such undertakings unrealistic within a single academic term. We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains. Students using this library replicate and extend a published experiment examining the dose of estradiol required to masculinize the female zebra finch brain. We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests). We have provided free access to these digital tools at the following website: http://mdcune.psych.ucla.edu/modules/birdsong.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Mean percent correct (±SEM) on pretest compared with posttest scores from two different academic terms; in posttest-only condition, pretest was not administered. *, p < 0.001; ns = nonsignificant.
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Figure 5: Mean percent correct (±SEM) on pretest compared with posttest scores from two different academic terms; in posttest-only condition, pretest was not administered. *, p < 0.001; ns = nonsignificant.

Mentions: We compared the posttest scores to the pretest scores separately on our two scales: the module-specific and “inappropriate thinking biases” scales. One item on the module-specific scale was discarded because of poor psychometric properties (item #15), which seemed to be poorly worded; the pattern of results was not appreciably altered by discarding this item. The posttest means on the module-specific scale, addressing content, statistics, and experimental design, were significantly higher than the pretest of the first sample of students, t(111) = 17.78, p < 0.001, and t(148) = 10.74, p < 0.001, respectively (Figure 5). The posttest means on the module-specific scale were not significantly different from each other, t(148) = 0.118, p = 0.906, suggesting that the gains between the posttest and pretest reflected genuine increases in learning and reasoning skills and not just an artifact of repeated testing (Figure 5). Also, grades on the module were not significantly correlated with pretest scores, r(110) = 0.06, p > 0.50, suggesting that better performance was not correlated with better preparation before the module. Posttest scores did correlate with grades on the module in both terms, r(36) = 0.37, p < 0.05 and r(110) = 0.33, p < 0.05, providing convergent validity for our module-specific pre/posttest. Not surprisingly, scores on the four-item “inappropriate thinking biases” subscale (items 19–22 on the pre/posttest; see Supplemental Material) were uninfluenced by the module; students performed roughly at chance both before and after the module, and comparisons on this subscale were nonsignificant, all p > 0.50 (data not shown).


Using digital images of the zebra finch song system as a tool to teach organizational effects of steroid hormones: a free downloadable module.

Grisham W, Schottler NA, McCauley LM, Pham AP, Ruiz ML, Fong MC, Cui X - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Mean percent correct (±SEM) on pretest compared with posttest scores from two different academic terms; in posttest-only condition, pretest was not administered. *, p < 0.001; ns = nonsignificant.
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3105929&req=5

Figure 5: Mean percent correct (±SEM) on pretest compared with posttest scores from two different academic terms; in posttest-only condition, pretest was not administered. *, p < 0.001; ns = nonsignificant.
Mentions: We compared the posttest scores to the pretest scores separately on our two scales: the module-specific and “inappropriate thinking biases” scales. One item on the module-specific scale was discarded because of poor psychometric properties (item #15), which seemed to be poorly worded; the pattern of results was not appreciably altered by discarding this item. The posttest means on the module-specific scale, addressing content, statistics, and experimental design, were significantly higher than the pretest of the first sample of students, t(111) = 17.78, p < 0.001, and t(148) = 10.74, p < 0.001, respectively (Figure 5). The posttest means on the module-specific scale were not significantly different from each other, t(148) = 0.118, p = 0.906, suggesting that the gains between the posttest and pretest reflected genuine increases in learning and reasoning skills and not just an artifact of repeated testing (Figure 5). Also, grades on the module were not significantly correlated with pretest scores, r(110) = 0.06, p > 0.50, suggesting that better performance was not correlated with better preparation before the module. Posttest scores did correlate with grades on the module in both terms, r(36) = 0.37, p < 0.05 and r(110) = 0.33, p < 0.05, providing convergent validity for our module-specific pre/posttest. Not surprisingly, scores on the four-item “inappropriate thinking biases” subscale (items 19–22 on the pre/posttest; see Supplemental Material) were uninfluenced by the module; students performed roughly at chance both before and after the module, and comparisons on this subscale were nonsignificant, all p > 0.50 (data not shown).

Bottom Line: Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not.We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains.We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. grisham@lifesci.ucla.edu

ABSTRACT
Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not. The neural system underlying this behavior is sexually dimorphic, and this sex difference is easy to quantify. During development, the zebra finch song system can be altered by steroid hormones, specifically estradiol, which actually masculinizes it. Because of the ease of quantification and experimental manipulation, the zebra finch song system has great potential for use in undergraduate labs. Unfortunately, the underlying costs prohibit use of this system in undergraduate labs. Further, the time required to perform a developmental study renders such undertakings unrealistic within a single academic term. We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains. Students using this library replicate and extend a published experiment examining the dose of estradiol required to masculinize the female zebra finch brain. We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests). We have provided free access to these digital tools at the following website: http://mdcune.psych.ucla.edu/modules/birdsong.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus