NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1017238
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1931-7913
Student Learning about Biomolecular Self-Assembly Using Two Different External Representations
Host, Gunnar E.; Larsson, Caroline; Olson, Arthur; Tibell, Lena A. E.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v12 n3 p471-482 Sep 2013
Self-assembly is the fundamental but counterintuitive principle that explains how ordered biomolecular complexes form spontaneously in the cell. This study investigated the impact of using two external representations of virus self-assembly, an interactive tangible three-dimensional model and a static two-dimensional image, on student learning about the process of self-assembly in a group exercise. A conceptual analysis of self-assembly into a set of facets was performed to support study design and analysis. Written responses were collected in a pretest/posttest experimental design with 32 Swedish university students. A quantitative analysis of close-ended items indicated that the students improved their scores between pretest and posttest, with no significant difference between the conditions (tangible model/image). A qualitative analysis of an open-ended item indicated students were unfamiliar with self-assembly prior to the study. Students in the tangible model condition used the facets of self-assembly in their open-ended posttest responses more frequently than students in the image condition. In particular, it appears that the dynamic properties of the tangible model may support student understanding of self-assembly in terms of the random and reversible nature of molecular interactions. A tentative difference was observed in response complexity, with more multifaceted responses in the tangible model condition.
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Sweden
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A