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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

Analysis of most common propositional changes. The frequency with which each proposition changed between each student’s pre- and post- maps in each pre/post change category (see Table 1) was quantified (A, B; n = 1,415 total proposition changes). The most common propositions within each change category are shown.
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f6-jmbe-17-339: Analysis of most common propositional changes. The frequency with which each proposition changed between each student’s pre- and post- maps in each pre/post change category (see Table 1) was quantified (A, B; n = 1,415 total proposition changes). The most common propositions within each change category are shown.

Mentions: To quantify the changes in student understanding of the central dogma over time, we tracked the changes in concept map propositions. An overview of how the class, as a cohort, shifted their thinking about the central dogma is seen in the frequencies of the nine possible types of proposition changes (Fig. 3A). Out of the 1,415 total propositional changes made by the students in the class, most fell into only four of the change types: none to valid (33%), valid to valid (24%), valid to none (22%), and invalid to none (9%) (Fig. 6). The other five categories made up the remaining 12% of changes. As the students learned more, they discarded both valid and invalid propositions to construct more complex maps with new valid propositions. This analysis of proposition changes also shows that students had very few new misconceptions and retained very few old misconceptions by the end of the course. The category of invalid to invalid occurred in only 1% of all propositions, and none to invalid occurred in only 6% of propositions.


Tracking the Resolution of Student Misconceptions about the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology †
Analysis of most common propositional changes. The frequency with which each proposition changed between each student’s pre- and post- maps in each pre/post change category (see Table 1) was quantified (A, B; n = 1,415 total proposition changes). The most common propositions within each change category are shown.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

f6-jmbe-17-339: Analysis of most common propositional changes. The frequency with which each proposition changed between each student’s pre- and post- maps in each pre/post change category (see Table 1) was quantified (A, B; n = 1,415 total proposition changes). The most common propositions within each change category are shown.
Mentions: To quantify the changes in student understanding of the central dogma over time, we tracked the changes in concept map propositions. An overview of how the class, as a cohort, shifted their thinking about the central dogma is seen in the frequencies of the nine possible types of proposition changes (Fig. 3A). Out of the 1,415 total propositional changes made by the students in the class, most fell into only four of the change types: none to valid (33%), valid to valid (24%), valid to none (22%), and invalid to none (9%) (Fig. 6). The other five categories made up the remaining 12% of changes. As the students learned more, they discarded both valid and invalid propositions to construct more complex maps with new valid propositions. This analysis of proposition changes also shows that students had very few new misconceptions and retained very few old misconceptions by the end of the course. The category of invalid to invalid occurred in only 1% of all propositions, and none to invalid occurred in only 6% of propositions.

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