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Tracking the Resolution of Student Misconceptions about the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology †

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The goal of our study was to track changes in student understanding of the central dogma of molecular biology before and after taking a genetics course. Concept maps require the ability to synthesize new information into existing knowledge frameworks, and so the hypothesis guiding this study was that student performance on concept maps reveals specific central dogma misconceptions gained, lost, and retained by students. Students in a genetics course completed pre- and posttest concept mapping tasks using terms related to the central dogma. Student maps increased in complexity and validity, indicating learning gains in both content and complexity of understanding. Changes in each of the 351 possible connections in the mapping task were tracked for each student. Our students did not retain much about the central dogma from their introductory biology courses, but they did move to more advanced levels of understanding by the end of the genetics course. The information they retained from their introductory courses focused on structural components (e.g., protein is made of amino acids) and not on overall mechanistic components (e.g., DNA comes before RNA, the ribosome makes protein). Students made the greatest gains in connections related to transcription, and they resolved the most prior misconceptions about translation. These concept-mapping tasks revealed that students are able to correct prior misconceptions about the central dogma during an intermediate-level genetics course. From these results, educators can design new classroom interventions to target those aspects of this foundational principle with which students have the most trouble.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Matrix scoring method. To track changes in propositions from pre- to post- maps, each proposition on each individual student map was given a code (1 = absent, 3 = valid, 7 = invalid) and then the formula [(post + pre) × pre] (A) was used to generate nine unique values indicating the nine possible types of changes. Each student’s separate pre- and post- map (B) was then converted into a single 27 × 27 matrix containing these change codes (C). DNA = deoxyribonucleic acid; RNA = ribonucleic acid.
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f3-jmbe-17-339: Matrix scoring method. To track changes in propositions from pre- to post- maps, each proposition on each individual student map was given a code (1 = absent, 3 = valid, 7 = invalid) and then the formula [(post + pre) × pre] (A) was used to generate nine unique values indicating the nine possible types of changes. Each student’s separate pre- and post- map (B) was then converted into a single 27 × 27 matrix containing these change codes (C). DNA = deoxyribonucleic acid; RNA = ribonucleic acid.

Mentions: To detect specific changes in student understanding of the central dogma, we developed a three-part method for quantifying propositional changes over time. Each of the 351 possible unique propositions could change in nine ways: on the pretest, that particular proposition could be valid, invalid, or absent, and again on the posttest, that same proposition could be valid, invalid, or absent (Fig. 3A). First, all maps for which both pre- and post- versions were completed (n = 36) were converted into 27 × 27 matrices (Fig. 3C), in which each column and row represented a particular term on the concept map (such as “Ribosome” or “Uracil”) (Fig. 3B). These pre- and post- matrices were generated using a numerical code to indicate the absence or presence (and the validity of those present) of each of the 351 possible unique propositions. This numerical code was: 1 = proposition absent, 3 = proposition present and valid, and 7 = proposition present and invalid (Fig. 3A). The second step in our analysis was to identify the type of changes in each student’s pair of maps, and so a third matrix was then generated, for each student, that summarized the changes in each proposition from pre- to post- map. The formula [(pre code + post code) × pre code] allowed for the generation of nine unique values (referred to here as change codes) to identify the nine possible types of change (Fig. 3A): absent to absent, absent to invalid, absent to valid, valid to absent, valid to invalid, valid to valid, invalid to absent, invalid to invalid, and invalid to valid. Thirdly, to quantify the frequency of changes of each of the 351 possible propositions across the entire participant population, the number of occurrences of each possible change code for each matrix cell was calculated.


Tracking the Resolution of Student Misconceptions about the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology †
Matrix scoring method. To track changes in propositions from pre- to post- maps, each proposition on each individual student map was given a code (1 = absent, 3 = valid, 7 = invalid) and then the formula [(post + pre) × pre] (A) was used to generate nine unique values indicating the nine possible types of changes. Each student’s separate pre- and post- map (B) was then converted into a single 27 × 27 matrix containing these change codes (C). DNA = deoxyribonucleic acid; RNA = ribonucleic acid.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5134937&req=5

f3-jmbe-17-339: Matrix scoring method. To track changes in propositions from pre- to post- maps, each proposition on each individual student map was given a code (1 = absent, 3 = valid, 7 = invalid) and then the formula [(post + pre) × pre] (A) was used to generate nine unique values indicating the nine possible types of changes. Each student’s separate pre- and post- map (B) was then converted into a single 27 × 27 matrix containing these change codes (C). DNA = deoxyribonucleic acid; RNA = ribonucleic acid.
Mentions: To detect specific changes in student understanding of the central dogma, we developed a three-part method for quantifying propositional changes over time. Each of the 351 possible unique propositions could change in nine ways: on the pretest, that particular proposition could be valid, invalid, or absent, and again on the posttest, that same proposition could be valid, invalid, or absent (Fig. 3A). First, all maps for which both pre- and post- versions were completed (n = 36) were converted into 27 × 27 matrices (Fig. 3C), in which each column and row represented a particular term on the concept map (such as “Ribosome” or “Uracil”) (Fig. 3B). These pre- and post- matrices were generated using a numerical code to indicate the absence or presence (and the validity of those present) of each of the 351 possible unique propositions. This numerical code was: 1 = proposition absent, 3 = proposition present and valid, and 7 = proposition present and invalid (Fig. 3A). The second step in our analysis was to identify the type of changes in each student’s pair of maps, and so a third matrix was then generated, for each student, that summarized the changes in each proposition from pre- to post- map. The formula [(pre code + post code) × pre code] allowed for the generation of nine unique values (referred to here as change codes) to identify the nine possible types of change (Fig. 3A): absent to absent, absent to invalid, absent to valid, valid to absent, valid to invalid, valid to valid, invalid to absent, invalid to invalid, and invalid to valid. Thirdly, to quantify the frequency of changes of each of the 351 possible propositions across the entire participant population, the number of occurrences of each possible change code for each matrix cell was calculated.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The goal of our study was to track changes in student understanding of the central dogma of molecular biology before and after taking a genetics course. Concept maps require the ability to synthesize new information into existing knowledge frameworks, and so the hypothesis guiding this study was that student performance on concept maps reveals specific central dogma misconceptions gained, lost, and retained by students. Students in a genetics course completed pre- and posttest concept mapping tasks using terms related to the central dogma. Student maps increased in complexity and validity, indicating learning gains in both content and complexity of understanding. Changes in each of the 351 possible connections in the mapping task were tracked for each student. Our students did not retain much about the central dogma from their introductory biology courses, but they did move to more advanced levels of understanding by the end of the genetics course. The information they retained from their introductory courses focused on structural components (e.g., protein is made of amino acids) and not on overall mechanistic components (e.g., DNA comes before RNA, the ribosome makes protein). Students made the greatest gains in connections related to transcription, and they resolved the most prior misconceptions about translation. These concept-mapping tasks revealed that students are able to correct prior misconceptions about the central dogma during an intermediate-level genetics course. From these results, educators can design new classroom interventions to target those aspects of this foundational principle with which students have the most trouble.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus