(The FASEB Journal. 2010;24:445.11.)
Using General Models, Summary Sheets and Learning Paragraphs to Integrate Learning in Physiology
Mary Pat Wenderoth.
Biology, Universtiy of Washington, Seattle, WA
To help students develop an integrative approach to learning physiology, three learning activities are routinely used in my courses for Biology majors. First, General Models (GM; Modell 2000) are incorporated into each class. GMs help students realize that the same basic principles govern many physiological processes, for example movement of blood through the circulatory system, air through the respiratory tree and oxygen across the alveoli are each explained by Flux. On exams, students are required to note which GM they used to solve the problem. Students who correctly identified the GM gave more correct explanations than those who had not identified the GM. Second, students create a weekly summary sheet that requires them to synthesize and integrate their understanding of the week’s material in a pictorial format. Third, students submit a weekly learning paragraph that address connections made between material discussed in class and their lives outside the classroom. Students found the last two learning tools helped them see the relevance and better integrate material. The Revised-Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ; Biggs et al. 2001) was used to determine if these learning strategies caused students to use a deep or superficial study approach. Seniors in the 400 level course using these three learning tools showed a significant increase in their deep approach to studying compared to age matched colleagues.