Active Learning Workshops for Teaching Key Topics in Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology: Structure of DNA/RNA, Structure of Proteins, and Cell Division via Mitosis and Meiosis
This resource consists of workshop materials that facilitate an active learning approach to teaching three core topics typically covered in introductory cell and molecular biology courses: DNA/RNA structure, protein structure, and cell division via both mitosis and meiosis. The format of the materials was inspired by the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) technique first developed by chemistry educators (Moog et al., 2009; https://pogil.org) and could be used for instruction using the POGIL method; however, I have used them for group-based workshops without implementing all the structural features of POGIL. The workshops require students to answer a series of questions using the content provided in labeled figures and a small amount of additional information contained in the questions. The questions guide the students through the various learning objectives in order of increasing complexity, allowing them to “discover” the key concepts for themselves rather than passively receiving the content in lecture form. Working in groups, students are able to practice identifying what they don’t understand and explaining concepts that they do understand, putting these into words in the form of questions or explanations to their peers. In this manner, students develop a more thorough and hopefully a more lasting understanding of crucial, foundational topics and also practice collaborative problem solving.
Genetics Concept(s) Addressed:
Nature of Genetic Material: What are the molecular components and mechanisms necessary to preserve and duplicate an organism’s genome?
Core Competencies Addressed:
Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question
Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses
Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model.
Students should be able to effectively explain genetics concepts to different audiences
Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors
1-1.5 50-minute class periods per workshop
Protein structure, DNA structure, mitosis, meiosis, active learning, group activity, introductory cell and molecular biology
Hood-DeGrenier, J. (2015). Active Learning Workshops for Teaching Key Topics in Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology: Structure of DNA/RNA, Structure of Proteins, and Cell Division via Mitosis and Meiosis. Genetics Society of America Peer-Reviewed Education Portal (GSA PREP): 2015.004; doi: 10.1534/gsaprep.2015.004