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Critical Features in Visualization of Protein Function.: An Empirical Study of Student´s Meaning-Making of Diagrams and an Animation.
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Learning, Aesthetics, Natural science. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (Visual Learning and Communication)
Linköping University, Department of Science and Technology, Media and Information Technology. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences. (Visual Learning and Communication)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4694-5611
2008 (English)Conference proceedings (editor) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Abstract [en]

Ever since Watson’s & Crick’s first image of the double helix of DNA was published in 1953, the use of visualizations in molecular life science has continued to grow in importance. Several studies of students’ interpretation of images and other forms of visualizations have been conducted in science education research, especially physics. These studies have shown that ambiguities, simplifications and potentially misleading elements in the design of visualizations can give rise to unexpected difficulties or alternative interpretations.

In this study we are using variation theory as a framework for our analysis. According to variation theory, which can be characterized as a theoretical development and framework with roots in phenomenographic research, variation in how a phenomenon is experienced by a learner is decisive for the learning outcome. According to variation theory, there are some critical features that corresponds to the aspects of a phenomenon that makes the student grasp the content. The key objetive of this investigation is to study which critical features of biomolecular processes involving proteins can be discerned using still images as compared to an animation.

In the study, a set of 107 students taking different variants of the natural science program in the second (grade 11) or third (grade 12) year of their upper secondary education answered a questionnaire with open-ended questions, focusing of the structure, function and occurrence of proteins. From those students, 20 were interviewed in semi-structured, revised clinical interviews. The interviews focused on the structure and function of proteins and were structured around three 2D visualizations of proteins redesigned from examples in text books used in their biology and chemistry courses, and an animation. The analysis of the interview transcripts yielded three categories of critical features relating to learning biomolecular processes, which caused a major part of the difficulties students experienced when interpreting the visualizations: 1) Features that shows the complexity of biomolecular interactions arising from the multitude of different molecules that are simultaneously interacting with each other. 2) Features that shows the dynamic and random character of movement of the particles, including the unimaginable speed at which reactions occur. 3) Extrapolation from 2D to 3D and visualizing 3D-structures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Taiwan University Press, 2008. , 4 p.
Keyword [en]
Molecular life science, Visualization, Science education
National Category
Didactics Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-52115OAI: diva2:279736
European Research in Didactics of Biology
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2006-2501
Available from: 2009-12-06 Created: 2009-12-06 Last updated: 2016-05-04

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Rundgren, Carl-JohanTibell, Lena A E
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Learning, Aesthetics, Natural scienceFaculty of Arts and SciencesMedia and Information TechnologyFaculty of Educational Sciences
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