Alternative Educational Approach to Introducing Cell Biology

Rosilane T. Silva, Patrícia Santos de Oliveira, Tiago da Luz Andrade, Patrícia F. Gardino, Lucia Bianconi


First year medical students usually have a great  difficulty to visualize a three  dimensional  cell. They also present a series of misconceptions  related to cell biology that seems to begin in the high school. An alternative educational approach  is being tested  with high school students in order to minimize these misconceptions,  and also increase the pupils interest in the subject.  The approach  combines theoretical classes with experimental activities, the  use of models, games, discussions,  and oral presentations by the students at the end of the educational module.  In short,  the experimental activities  are low-cost, easy-to-follow experiments that basically show a few properties  of the living cells, such as membrane transport, enzyme action  as well as the  importance of the  membrane  integrity for life.  A card  game relates  the  functions  of the organnels  by matching  pairs  of cards.  This  game has one card without a matching  pair  that explains  apoptosis;  the  player  that ends up with  this  card  loses the game.   The pupils learn while they play the game.  A 3D model of the membrane  shows the major components  and allows the observation of membrane  assimetry.   After comparing  some panels of photomicrographs of cells and organnels, the students are presented  to a 3D model of a cell as the teacher  tries to relate the panels  with  a three  dimensional  visualization.  They  also have the  opportunity to present their  own models.  The opinion of high school teachers  about  the different activities  will be shown.  The aim of this educational module is to promote  learning while different abilities, according to Gardners  Multiple Intelligences  Theory,  such as the visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and naturalistic are being developed.  We believe that the diversity  of approaches  is one of the most important feature  of this module as it increases the interest of the students while demystifies the misconceptions  observed later  in the College.


3D model,

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