(The FASEB Journal. 2013;27:740.10)
Interactive computer tutorials illustrating a pedagogy promoting conceptual change
Harold I Modell1 and Joel A Michael2
1 Physiology Educational Research Consortium, Seattle, WA
2 Molecular Biophysics and Physiology, Rush University, Chicago, IL
The traditional pedagogical paradigm for instruction provides the student with information and then tests to see if the student has acquired or can apply that information. Constructivism asserts that we build knowledge on an existing framework and that conceptual change occurs when the learner tests an existing mental model. Hence a more appropriate pedagogy may be one that encourages the student to make predictions based on existing mental models before presenting “new” information. We have developed a series of interactive computer-based tutorials that illustrates a pedagogy based on this process of recognizing, testing and refining mental models. The exercises focus on core concepts in physiology. Students engage in a dialog in which they are presented with a situation and asked to make a prediction. The follow-up response addresses that prediction and, in many cases, the implications of the prediction relative to the problem presented. The continued dialog iterates this process to help the student build a mental model that can be used to solve problems relating to the core concept. Topics covered include Determinants of Flow, Membrane Potentials, Elastic Structures, Homeostatic Control Mechanisms, Conservation of Mass, and Membrane Transport. Supported in part by NSF Grant #DUE-1043422.