Abstract
HELPING UNDERGRADUATES REPAIR FAULTY MENTAL MODELS IN THE STUDENT LABORATORY.
Harold I. Modell1, Joel A. Michael2, Tom Adamson3, Jack Goldberg3, Barbara A. Horwitz3, David S. Bruce4, Margaret L. Hudson5, Shirley A. Whitescarver6, and Stephen Williams7. 1National Resource for Computers in Life Science Education, Seattle, WA 98115, 2Department of Molecular Biophysics and Physiology, Rush Medical College, Chicago, IL 60612, 3Section on Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, 4Department of Biology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187, 5Department of Biology, Seattle University, Seattle, WA 98122, 6Department of Biological Science and Nursing, Lexington Community College, Lexington, KY 40506, 7Department of Biology, Glendale Community College, Glendale, AZ 85302.
 
Over half of undergraduate students entering physiology hold a misconception concerning how breathing pattern changes when minute ventilation increases (4, 5). Repair of this misconception was used as a measure to compare the impact of three student laboratory protocols on learning by 696 undergraduate students at five institutions. Students were tested for the presence of the misconception before and after performing a laboratory activity in which they measured the effect of exercise on tidal volume and breathing frequency. The first protocol followed a traditional written “observe and record” (“cookbook” format). In the second treatment group, a written protocol asked students to complete a prediction table before running the experiment (“predictor” protocol). Students in the third treatment group were given the written “predictor” protocol, but were also required to verbalize their predictions before running the experiment (“instructor intervention” protocol). In each of the three groups, the number of students whose performance improved on the post-test was greater than the number of students who performed less well on the post-test (P<0.001). Thus, the laboratory helped students correct the misconception. However, the remediation rate for students in the “instructor intervention” group was more than twice that observed for the other treatments (P<0.001). The results indicate that laboratory instruction is more effective when students verbalize predictions from their mental models than when they only “discover” the outcome of the experiment.
Advan. Physiol. Educ., 23:82-90, 2000.
 
 
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