Gene expression is a complex multi-step process that students struggle to learn. There are many terms to memorize and then students need to remember the functions and roles of all the molecular players and the order in which each molecule participates in the overall process. I currently use lecture, diagrams, animations, a worksheet and websites to teach this topic and I have also incorporated a hands-on lab using manipulatives where the students create their own working model of gene expression using yarn, foam pieces, pasta, playdoh, post-its and other random junk (see attached pics). Sometimes we have time to do this lab and sometimes we do not. In this study I compared the scores of students who did the lab with those that did not to see if using this activity improves learning, as measured by several questions covering gene expression on the Unit 4 Exam. Overall, there was an increase from 11.86/20 to 14.09/20 on a large 20 point question that reviews the entire process. This is an 11% increase (2.23 out of 20). Data and further analysis are attached. We will retain this activity as it does positively impact student learning.
Does incorporating a kinesthetic assignment improve student learning of a complex topic?
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