1887

Using Pre-Assessment and In-Class Questions to Change Student Understanding of Molecular Movements

    Authors: J. Shi1,*, Jennifer K. Knight2, Hyonho Chun3, Nancy A. Guild2, Jennifer M. Martin2
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309; 2: Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309; 3: Department of Statistics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 22 June 2016 Accepted 15 December 2016 Published 21 April 2017
    • ©2017 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Integrative Physiology, 354 UCB, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0347. Phone: 303-492-8078. Fax: 303-492-4009. E-mail: Jia.shi@colorado.edu.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1195
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    Abstract:

    Understanding how different types of molecules move through cell membranes is a fundamental part of cell biology. To identify and address student misconceptions surrounding molecular movement through cell membranes, we surveyed student understanding on this topic using pre-class questions, in-class clicker questions, and subsequent exam questions in a large introductory biology course. Common misconceptions identified in student responses to the pre-class assessment questions were used to generate distractors for clicker questions. Two-tier diagnostic clicker questions were used to probe incoming common student misconceptions (first tier) and their reasoning (second tier). Two subsequent lectures with assessment clicker questions were used to help students construct a new framework to understand molecular movement through cell membranes. Comparison of pre-assessment and post-assessment (exam) performance showed dramatic improvement in students’ understanding of molecular movement: student answers to exam questions were 74.6% correct with correct reasoning while only 1.3% of the student answers were correct with correct reasoning on the pre-class assessment. Our results show that students’ conceptual understanding of molecular movement through cell membranes progressively increases through discussions of a series of clicker questions and suggest that this clicker-based teaching strategy was highly effective in correcting common student misconceptions on this topic.

Key Concept Ranking

Cell Movements
0.47742146
Proteins
0.4207578
0.47742146

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2017-04-21
2017-07-21

Abstract:

Understanding how different types of molecules move through cell membranes is a fundamental part of cell biology. To identify and address student misconceptions surrounding molecular movement through cell membranes, we surveyed student understanding on this topic using pre-class questions, in-class clicker questions, and subsequent exam questions in a large introductory biology course. Common misconceptions identified in student responses to the pre-class assessment questions were used to generate distractors for clicker questions. Two-tier diagnostic clicker questions were used to probe incoming common student misconceptions (first tier) and their reasoning (second tier). Two subsequent lectures with assessment clicker questions were used to help students construct a new framework to understand molecular movement through cell membranes. Comparison of pre-assessment and post-assessment (exam) performance showed dramatic improvement in students’ understanding of molecular movement: student answers to exam questions were 74.6% correct with correct reasoning while only 1.3% of the student answers were correct with correct reasoning on the pre-class assessment. Our results show that students’ conceptual understanding of molecular movement through cell membranes progressively increases through discussions of a series of clicker questions and suggest that this clicker-based teaching strategy was highly effective in correcting common student misconceptions on this topic.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Study design. Students randomly received two questions (pre-assessment) on paper about MMTM in class ( 157). The first question was factual and the second question required explanations of their answers to the first question. Student free responses were used as the distracters for the clicker questions, which were designed to identify student misconceptions in the area of MMTM. Assessment clicker questions addressed the importance of molecular polarity and relative size on MMTM. Exam questions were used to assess student retention of these concepts. MMTM = molecular movement through cell membranes.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1195
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Image of FIGURE 2A

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FIGURE 2A

Pre-assessment question 1. Students were asked to select the molecules that are not able to diffuse through a membrane composed only of phospholipids (without proteins, part 1) and explain their reasoning (part 2). The correct answers are polar molecules B, C, F, J and charged molecules D and G.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1195
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Image of FIGURE 2B

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FIGURE 2B

Pre-assessment question 2. Students were asked to select the molecule that will diffuse fastest through a membrane composed only of phospholipids (without proteins, first tier) and explain their reasoning (second tier). Student answers were as follows: 18% chose A (propanol), 20% chose B (methanol), 62% chose C (water). The correct answer is C.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1195
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Performance on diagnostic clicker questions. The percentage of students who correctly answered each diagnostic clicker question is shown ( 279). Question 1 (Q1) is about polarity and Question 3 (Q3) is about size. Questions 2 and 4 (Q2 and Q4) are about the reasoning for Q1 and Q2 respectively. * The percentage of correct answers increased after student discussion ( 0.001; McNemar’s chi-squared test). # The percentage of correct answers decreased from Q1 and Q3 (choose a correct answer) to Q2 and Q4 (reasoning), respectively ( 0.001; McNemar’s chi-squared test). Error bars show the SEM. The short brackets are used to indicate the comparison of performance for individual clicker questions before and after the peer discussion. The longer brackets are used to indicate the comparison of performance between first tier and second tier clicker questions. AD = after discussion; SEM = standard error of the mean.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1195
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Image of FIGURE 4

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FIGURE 4

Question addressing the importance of polarity and size in determining how a molecule diffuses through membranes. The percentage of students answering the clicker questions correctly is shown ( 281 for class 2 and 282 for class 3). In both classes, question 1 (Q1) is about how a molecule can diffuse through membranes composed only of phospholipids and question 2 (Q2) is about how a molecule can diffuse through those same membranes. Student discussions and instructor explanation occurred at the end of each clicker question. * 0.001, McNemar’s chi-squared test. Error bars show the SEM. The long brackets are used to indicate the comparison of performance for two different questions that assess the same concept, asked respectively in class 1 and class 2. SEM = standard error of the mean.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1195
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Image of FIGURE 5

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FIGURE 5

Exam question ( 258). Students were asked to select the molecule that will diffuse the fastest through a pure phospholipid bilayer (without proteins) and explain their reasoning. The correct answer is C (74.6% students chose this answer). Incorrect answers B and E were chosen respectively by 7.2% and 18.2% of students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1195
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