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Manipulatives-Based Laboratory for Majors Biology – a Hands-On Approach to Understanding Respiration and Photosynthesis

    Authors: Sarah M. Boomer1,*, Kristin L. Latham1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Western Oregon University, Monmouth OR 97361
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 December 2011
    • Supplemental material available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biology, Western Oregon University, 345 Monmouth Ave., Monmouth OR 87361. Phone: (503) 838-8209. Fax: 503-838- 8702. E-mail: boomers@wou.edu.
    • Copyright © 2011 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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    Abstract:

    The first course in our year-long introductory series for Biology majors encompasses four learning units: biological molecules and cells, metabolism, genetics, and evolution. Of these, the metabolism unit, which includes respiration and photosynthesis, has shown the lowest student exam scores, least interest, and lowest laboratory ratings. Consequently, we hypothesized that modeling metabolic processes in the laboratory would improve student content learning during this course unit. Specifically, we developed manipulatives-based laboratory exercises that combined paper cutouts, movable blocks, and large diagrams of the cell. In particular, our novel use of connecting LEGO blocks allowed students to move model electrons and phosphates between molecules and within defined spaces of the cell. We assessed student learning using both formal (content indicators and attitude surveys) and informal (the identification of misconceptions or discussions with students) approaches. On the metabolism unit content exam, student performance improved by 46% over pretest scores and by the end of the course, the majority of students rated metabolism as their most-improved (43%) and favorite (33%) subject as compared with other unit topics. The majority of students rated manipulatives-based labs as very helpful, as compared to non-manipulatives-based labs. In this report, we will demonstrate that students made learning gains across all content areas, but most notably in the unit that covered respiration and photosynthesis.

Key Concept Ranking

Light-Dependent Reaction
0.6342498
Light-Independent Reaction
0.5900518
Proton Pumps
0.546875
Metabolism
0.49021363
0.6342498

References & Citations

1. Cakir OS, Geban O, Yuruk N2002Effectiveness of conceptual change text-oriented instruction on students’ understanding of cellular respiration conceptsBiochem. Mol. Biol. Educ.3023924310.1002/bmb.2002.494030040095 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bmb.2002.494030040095
2. Campbell NA, Reece JB, Urry LA, Cain ML, Wasserman SA, Minorsky PV, et al2008Biology8th edPearson Benjamin CummingsSan Francisco, CA183251092292683
3. Carolina Biological Supply Company2010Modeling cellular respiration kitAvailable from: http://www.carolina.com/product/life+science/ap+biology/ap+biology+kits/modeling+cellular+respiration+kit.doAccessed January 5, 2010
4. Carolina Biological Supply Company2010Modeling photosynthesis: the Calvin cycle kitAvailable from: http://www.carolina.com/product/746478.do?KickerID=int_t_sgt_apbio_calvincyclekitAccessed January 5, 2010
5. DiCarlo SE2006Cell Biology should be taught as science is practicedNat. Rev. Mol. Cell. Biol.729029610.1038/nrm185616482092 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrm1856
6. Helms DR, Helms CW, Kosinski RJ, Cummings JR1999Biology in the laboratory3rd edThe Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc.Menlo Park, CA
7. Lawson AE2000Managing the inquiry classroom: problems & solutionsAm. Biol. Teach.6264164810.1662/0002-7685(2000)062[0641:MTICPS]2.0.CO;2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1662/0002-7685(2000)062[0641:MTICPS]2.0.CO;2
8. Mattheis FE, Nakayama G1988Effects of a laboratory-centered inquiry program on laboratory skills, science process skills, and understanding of science knowledge in middle grades studentsERIC Document Reproduction no. ED307148Available from: http://www.eric.ed.gov/
9. Morgan JG, Brown Carter ME1998Biology in the laboratory3rd. edW.H. Freeman and CompanyNew York, NY
10. Morgan JG, Brown Carter ME2008Investigating biology lab manual6th edPearson Benjamin CummingsSan Francisco, CA
11. Patro ET2008Teaching aerobic cell respiration using the 5 EsAm. Biol. Teach.70858710.1662/0002-7685(2008)70[85:TACRUT]2.0.CO;2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1662/0002-7685(2008)70[85:TACRUT]2.0.CO;2
12. Saunders WL, Shepardson D1984A comparison of concrete and formal science instruction upon science achievement and reasoning ability of sixth-grade studentsERIC Document Reproduction no. ED244797Available from: http://www.eric.ed.gov/
13. Scholer A-M, Hatton Mary2008An evaluation of the efficacy of a laboratory exercise on cellular respirationJ. Coll. Sci. Teach384045
14. Tanner K, Allen D2005Approaches to biology teaching and learning: understanding the wrong answers – teaching toward conceptual changeCell Biol. Educ.411211710.1187/cbe.05-02-0068159178681103711 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.05-02-0068
15. Tanner K, Allen D2004Approaches to biology teaching and learning: learning styles and the problem of instructional selection – engaging all students in science coursesCell Biol. Educ.319720110.1187/cbe.04-07-005015592590533116 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.04-07-0050
16. WARD’s Natural Science2008Cell respiration made easy manipulativesAvailable from: http://wardsci.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_IG0016914_A_name_E_Cell+Respiration+Made+Easy+ManipulativesAccessed October 24, 2010
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2011-12-01
2017-11-22

Abstract:

The first course in our year-long introductory series for Biology majors encompasses four learning units: biological molecules and cells, metabolism, genetics, and evolution. Of these, the metabolism unit, which includes respiration and photosynthesis, has shown the lowest student exam scores, least interest, and lowest laboratory ratings. Consequently, we hypothesized that modeling metabolic processes in the laboratory would improve student content learning during this course unit. Specifically, we developed manipulatives-based laboratory exercises that combined paper cutouts, movable blocks, and large diagrams of the cell. In particular, our novel use of connecting LEGO blocks allowed students to move model electrons and phosphates between molecules and within defined spaces of the cell. We assessed student learning using both formal (content indicators and attitude surveys) and informal (the identification of misconceptions or discussions with students) approaches. On the metabolism unit content exam, student performance improved by 46% over pretest scores and by the end of the course, the majority of students rated metabolism as their most-improved (43%) and favorite (33%) subject as compared with other unit topics. The majority of students rated manipulatives-based labs as very helpful, as compared to non-manipulatives-based labs. In this report, we will demonstrate that students made learning gains across all content areas, but most notably in the unit that covered respiration and photosynthesis.

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Figures

Image of FIG. 1

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FIG. 1

Cell diagrams contained basic compartments and organelles relevant for metabolic processes. All lines represent membranes, including all outer and inner organelle membranes (plus chloroplast thylakoid).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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FIG. 2

Manipulatives key provided to students in the lab.

Red (ADP) and yellow (phosphate) blocks represented ADP/ATP transformations. Orange (NAD, FAD) and blue (electron) blocks represented electron carrier transformations. Googly-eye (H+) was used during the generation of proton motive force (oxidative phosphorylation and photosynthesis-driven ETC events).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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FIG. 3

Glycolysis and ATP-consuming and energy-producing steps.

The left image shows Big Picture cutout matches that summarize glycolysis; they should be in the cell diagram cytoplasm. The middle images show ATP-consuming steps (glucose to fructose-1,6-bisphosphate); in both cases, phosphates/yellow bricks were placed on the molecules that were phosphorylated using ATP, with red bricks representing ADP. The right images show some energy-producing steps (G3P to pyruvate): the first cutout reaction depicts the release of an electron/blue brick that is carried by/attached to NAD/orange brick; the second shows substrate-level phosphorylation events that yield ATP (red and yellow bricks combined).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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Image of FIG. 4

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FIG. 4

Coenzyme junction and citric acid cycle.

The left two images show the coenzyme junction (left = Big Picture cutout matches and right = modeling); both should be placed crossing from the cytoplasm through both the outer and inner mitochondrial membrane. The right two images show the citric acid cycle (left = Big Picture cutout matches, and right = modeling); both should be placed in the mitochondrial matrix.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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Image of FIG. 5

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FIG. 5

The left image shows the Big Picture cutout matches summarizing oxidative phosphorylation and the right image shows active modeling of this process.

The ETC and ATP synthase cutouts should be placed on the inner mitochondrial membrane, with H+/proton googly-eyes actively moved from the matrix into the intermembrane space during electron transport, and then back through the ATP synthase to the matrix during chemiosmosis.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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Image of FIG. 6

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FIG. 6

PSII and PSI cutouts and manipulatives, and Calvin cycle cutout and manipulatives.

The left image shows PSII cutouts and manipulatives; all should be placed on the thylakoid membrane, with H+/proton googly-eyes moving from the stroma to the thylakoid space during electron transport, and then back through the ATP-ase to the stroma during chemiosmosis. The middle image shows PSI cutouts and manipulatives; all should be placed on the thylakoid membrane, with NADPH/e generated in the stroma. The right image shows the Calvin cycle cutout and manipulatives indicating energy events associated with one turn of the cycle or one CO fixed; all should be placed in the stroma, emphasizing that ATP and NADPH/e generated in the stroma is consumed by CO fixation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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Image of FIG. 7

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FIG. 7

Precourse attitudinal data for the 150 students who began this course.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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FIG. 8

Comparison of pre- versus posttest (midterm) content knowledge for 125 students who completed this course. Standard error for each exam is shown.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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Image of FIG. 9

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FIG. 9

Metabolism content exam data.

Of the 7 content questions, 5 (indicated with *) were directly related to material modeled during manipulatives-based lab activities. Pretest, midterm, and final exam performance for the 125 students who completed this course. Standard error for each exam is shown. In paired t-tests, pre- versus midterm were significantly different ( < 0.005 all questions); midterm versus final exam was not statistically different ( = 0.04 to 0.88).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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Image of FIG. 10

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FIG. 10

Postcourse attitudinal data for 125 students who completed this course.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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Image of FIG. 11

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FIG. 11

Postcourse lab efficacy survey for the 125 students who completed this course.

Responses shown represent the percentage of students who reported that a given lab “greatly helped” them master lecture concepts. Labs (indicated with *) featured manipulatives-based exercises, including the respiration and photosynthesis exercises described in this report.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 127-134. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.245
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