Learning Biochemistry the Write Way: Writing as a Tool to Promote Conceptual Understanding

Hannah Frank, RevaLu Ronnfeldt, and Dr. Raymond Pugh, Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, 1 University Plaza, Platteville, WI 53818

Many studies have demonstrated enhanced conceptual understanding by students when the learning involved writing about the concept. Further analyses of the studies that demonstrated enhanced student learning from the writing indicate that the writing is most effective when the writing assignments contain four important constructs. These constructs include: (1) A meaning-making writing task; (2) Clear writing expectations; (3) Interactive writing practices; (4) A chance for students to partake in metacognition.

This research conducted in a first semester General Biochemistry course, investigates the effectiveness of writing assignments containing all 4 of the aforementioned constructs to teach and enhance student understanding of Biochemistry concepts in addition to and/or in lieu of the traditional lecture format. Three Biochemistry concepts: (1) Effect of amino acid substitutions on protein structure and function; (2) The role of electron transfer and energy utilization in metabolism; (3) Regulation of carbohydrate metabolism, are taught via lecture only, writing assignment only, or combination of lecture with the writing assignment (both with lecture preceding or following the writing assignment).

Student comprehension was measured based on performance on exam questions that pertain to the concept being tested. An improvement in students’ test scores has been observed when an appropriate WTL assignment is implemented in conjunction with lecture. Additionally, equivalent comprehension was observed between students who received only the lecture and students who received only the writing assignment. Together, these findings suggest that including writing assignments that contain the four constructs associated with enhanced student learning is a valuable tool for promoting deep understanding of Biochemistry concepts and that utilizing these writing assignments can potentially serve as a substitute for teaching the concept by lecture only.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Hannah Frank, RevaLu Ronnfeldt

Institution: University of Wisconsin - Platteville

Type: Poster

Subject: Biochemistry

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 2
Date/Time: Mon 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 2523