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ERIC Number: EJ1087811
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1470-8175
Building Mental Models by Dissecting Physical Models
Srivastava, Anveshna
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, v44 n1 p7-11 Jan-Feb 2016
When students build physical models from prefabricated components to learn about model systems, there is an implicit trade-off between the physical degrees of freedom in building the model and the intensity of instructor supervision needed. Models that are too flexible, permitting multiple possible constructions require greater supervision to ensure focused learning; models that are too constrained require less supervision, but can be constructed mechanically, with little to no conceptual engagement. We propose "model-dissection" as an alternative to "model-building," whereby instructors could make efficient use of supervisory resources, while simultaneously promoting focused learning. We report empirical results from a study conducted with biology undergraduate students, where we demonstrate that asking them to "dissect" out specific conceptual structures from an already built 3D physical model leads to a significant improvement in performance than asking them to build the 3D model from simpler components. Using questionnaires to measure understanding both before and after model-based interventions for two cohorts of students, we find that both the "builders" and the "dissectors" improve in the post-test, but it is the latter group who show statistically significant improvement. These results, in addition to the intrinsic time-efficiency of "model dissection," suggest that it could be a valuable pedagogical tool.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A