22nd IUBMB & 37th FEBS Congress, Sevilla 2012

Congresos de la SEBBM

Research into Practice: Visualisation of the molecular world for a deep understanding of biochemistry

Roy Tasker

  • University of Western Sydney, Australia

The chemical education research literature clearly demonstrates that
most student misconceptions are due to an inability to visualize the
DYNAMIC 3-D structures and processes at the molecular level, as
represented by STATIC 2-D chemical formulas and equations. As
educators we need to assist students to develop useful mental models
of the molecular world to make the conventional symbolism meaningful.
However, we know that we cannot do this by simply showing students
complex visualizations that portray our expert mental models of this
world, and then expect novices to ‘internalise’ these models for
understanding biochemistry concepts.
The challenge is to develop learning designs – sequences of learning
activities – informed by an evidence-based cognitive model for how we
learn from multimedia visualizations[1]. Then we need sophisticated,
interactive visualizations of molecular–level structures and processes
that students can interact with, or even build, to explain essential
concepts as diverse as molecular reactivity, solvation and
hydrophobicity, and chemical speciation.
In this presentation I will demonstrate the latest molecular-level
simulation tool, Odyssey software, and our VisChem animations, to
show how both animations and simulations are required to visualize
structures and processes effectively. Strategies for directing student
attention to specific features in these visualisations will also be
presented.

[1] Tasker, R., & Dalton, R. (2006). Research into Practice: Visualisation of the Molecular World Using Animations. Chemistry Education Research and Practice 7(2), 141-159.


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