(The FASEB Journal. 2004;18:300.4)
Strategies for Promoting Meaningful Learning in Physiology
Tamara W. Modell and Harold I. Modell.
Physiology Educational Research Consortium, Seattle, WA 98115-1187.
Our goal as instructors is not merely to encourage the learning of course content, but to help students engage in “meaningful learning.” We know meaningful learning has occurred when students are able to solve novel problems. Meaningful learning involves overtly testing and refining mental models. This is not a process that many students recognize or adopt in their academic studies. We have developed exercises to help students recognize and practice the steps in the process that leads to meaningful learning in physiology. We have also developed a strategy for developing a learning guide to reinforce the process leading to meaningful learning in physiology. The learning guide helps students make their current mental models “visible.” presents situations or problems in which students use those models to predict how the system will respond to the situation, and provides information for the students to determine if their predictions are correct. This learning guide design also encourages students to view physiological phenomena from a mechanistic rather than a descriptive viewpoint.