Game-based activities targeting visual literacy skills to increase understanding of biomolecule structure and function concepts in undergraduate biochemistry

Cassidy R. Terrell, Kyle Nickodem, Alison Bates, Cassandra Kersten, Heather Mernitz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Introductory biochemistry courses are often challenging for students because they require the integration of chemistry, biology, physics, math, and physiology knowledge and frameworks to understand and apply a large body of knowledge. This can be complicated by students' persistent misconceptions of fundamental concepts and lack of fluency with the extensive visual and symbolic literacy used in biochemistry. Card sorting tasks and game-based activities have been used to reveal insights into how students are assimilating, organizing, and structuring disciplinary knowledge, and how they are progressing along a continuum from disciplinary novice to expert. In this study, game-based activities and card sorting tasks were used to promote and evaluate students' understanding of fundamental structure–function relationships in biochemistry. Our results suggest that while many markers of expertise increased for both the control and intervention groups over the course of the semester, students involved in the intervention activities tended to move further towards expert-like sorting. This indicates that intentional visual literacy game-based activities have the ability to build underdeveloped skills in undergraduate students.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)94-107
    Number of pages14
    JournalBiochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
    Volume49
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This work was partially supported by the National Science Foundation under award number DUE‐1323414 to Milwaukee School of Engineering for the CREST Program. We thank Thor Wirth and Naima Yusuf for helping organize the collected pre and post sorting cards. We thank Dr Margaret Franzen for helpful comments on this work. Finally, we thank all of the students who participated in this study.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2020 International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    Copyright:
    Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Keywords

    • active learning
    • biochemistry
    • biomolecules
    • card sorting
    • game-based
    • novice expert
    • structure–function
    • visual literacy

    PubMed: MeSH publication types

    • Journal Article

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