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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32748

Title: Visualizing the Complexity of the Molecular World: Examining the Role of Animated Representations in the Development of Undergraduate Students’ Understanding of Dynamic Cellular Events
Authors: Jenkinson, Jodie
Advisor: Woodruff, Earl
Department: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Keywords: Animation
Biomedical Visualization
Undergraduate Biology
Molecular Biology
Visual Representation
Visual Complexity
Issue Date: 22-Aug-2012
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the relative effectiveness of three-dimensional visualization techniques for learning about protein conformation and molecular motion in association with a ligand and receptor binding event. Increasingly complex versions of the same binding event were depicted in each of four animated treatments. Students (n = 131) were tested at three time points, and over both the short and longer term, the most complex of the four animated treatments was the most successful at fostering students’ understanding of the events depicted. A follow-up study including eight biology students was conducted to gain greater insight into the students’ underlying thought processes and better characterize their understanding of the animated representations. Analysis of verbal reports and eye tracking data suggest that students are able to attend to the same narrative elements regardless of the level of complexity depicted in each animation. Analysis of verbal protocol data revealed a positive correlation between the number of explanatory statements expressed by participants and the complexity of the animation viewed. As well, prior knowledge was positively correlated with the number of explanatory statements contained in each protocol. Overall, students demonstrated an understanding of protein conformation and molecular crowding. However results suggest that students have difficulty understanding and associating randomness with molecular events. The verbal reports contained several instances of students’ attaching agency to protein and ligand, anthropomorphizing their movements and subsequent binding. Ordinarily cellular events, owing to their sheer complexity, are depicted in a highly schematized, simplified form. The results of this study would suggest that under select circumstances this may not be the most appropriate approach to depicting dynamic events. However additional attention must be given to exploring techniques that can satisfactorily balance the random nature of molecular events with narrative explanations of these processes.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32748
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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