Publication Details (including relevant citation information):
Journal of Chemical Education 87, 291-293 (2010)
The pedagogical value of having students of biochemistry and organic chemistry build and manipulate physical models of chemical species of interest is well established in the literature. Nevertheless, for the most part the use of molecular models is generally limited to several laboratory exercises or to demonstrations in the classroom setting. A simple methodology using Maruzen or Darling molecular models and transparent, zip-lock plastic bags and a carefully designed questioning strategy has been developed and used over many years. Student-constructed models were turned in on a daily or weekly basis in the lecture portion of introductory biochemistry and graded. The models ranged from simple amino acids to silk fibroin to one turn of a DNA double helix; construction of complex structures were small-group efforts. These activities were observed to actively engage students in understanding biochemical structures. The use of models in the ways described resulted in students providing more sophisticated answers on exams than in years when such model building exercises were not part of the instructional methods.
Keywords: Upper-Division Undergraduates, Biochemistry, Hands-on Learning/Manipulation, Collaborative/Cooperative Learning, Analogies/Transfer, Molecular Recognition, Hydrogen Bonding, Professional Development
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