Construction of concept maps as tool for Biochemistry learning

Silvia Lopes de Menezes, Erik Montagna, Juliano Rodrigo Guerreiro, Bayardo B. Torres


The use of concept maps on the teaching of sciences has been object of worldwide research with different purposes: to detect the previous knowledge of the students on certain topics or to evaluate learning, among others. Based on Ausubel´s cognitive psychology, concept maps assume that the learning is accomplished by assimilation of new concepts and propositions to the students´ cognitive structure, contributing to establish links between the previous and new knowledge. It is especially interesting on the approach of interdisciplinary issues, as many studied in Biochemistry.The relevance of the use of concept maps on biochemistry learning was evaluated on a thirty-hour undergraduation optional course, with interdisciplinary topics, which are not usually included on introductory Biochemistry courses. The course Biochemistry of Animal Venoms was structured in seven module where the biochemical action mechanisms of the venoms of Crotalus sp (south american rattlesnake), Bothrops sp (jararaca), Loxosceles sp (brown spider), Tityus sp (yellow scorpion), Phoneutria sp (armed spider), Apis mellifera (honey bee) and Latrodectus sp (black widow)were discussed. The students worked in small groups and, at each module, there were (1) an oriented study, guided by questions, texts and schemes, supervised by the teachers, (2) the construction of individual concept maps, where the local and systemic effects of the venoms should be predicted by their biochemical composition and (3) the construction of a new map by the group, incorporating the information of the individual maps. The difficulty level of these tasks was gradually increased throughout the course, with lesser time to carry out the tasks, lesser assistance during the oriented study and even lesser information on the venom effects.The course assessment was given by the number, quality and correction of the concepts relationship present in the concept maps, through a questionnaire and by the teachers’ observation. The concept maps produced exceeded the expectation, being gradually more complex at each module. The answers to the questionnaire, in a 1 to 5 scale, showed that the course answered the students’ expectations (4,3), that the topics chosen were satisfactory (4,4) and that the students recommend the course to colleagues (4,6). Besides, the majority agreed that the concept maps improved the learning of the course content (4,5) and that this methodology should be adopted in other courses and disciplines.


Biochemistry, learning, systemic effects.



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