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ERIC Number: EJ859524
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 30
ISSN: ISSN-1931-7913
Analysis of Students' Aptitude to Provide Meaning to Images that Represent Cellular Components at the Molecular Level
Dahmani, Hassen-Reda; Schneeberger, Patricia; Kramer, IJsbrand M.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v8 n3 p226-238 Fall 2009
The number of experimentally derived structures of cellular components is rapidly expanding, and this phenomenon is accompanied by the development of a new semiotic system for teaching. The infographic approach is shifting from a schematic toward a more realistic representation of cellular components. By realistic we mean artist-prepared or computer graphic images that closely resemble experimentally derived structures and are characterized by a low level of styling and simplification. This change brings about a new challenge for teachers: designing course instructions that allow students to interpret these images in a meaningful way. To determine how students deal with this change, we designed several image-based, in-course assessments. The images were highly relevant for the cell biology course but did not resemble any of the images in the teaching documents. We asked students to label the cellular components, describe their function, or both. What we learned from these tests is that realistic images, with a higher apparent level of complexity, do not deter students from investigating their meaning. When given a choice, the students do not necessarily choose the most simplified representation, and they were sensitive to functional indications embedded in realistic images. (Contains 8 figures and 5 tables.)
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: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: France