An instructional design process for teaching about mechanisms - a report from our BEAST (Biology Education Area for Scholarship and Teaching)



Drs. Nancy Pelaez (Biological Sciences) and Trevor Anderson (Chemical Education and Biochemistry) have published a paper with our former biology graduate student, Dr. Caleb Trujillo, describing a four-stage process to guide refinements of the MACH model [with components of methods (M), analogies (A), context (C), and how (H)] as an aid to help students explain cellular and molecular mechanisms. First, the expert model (stage 1) was adapted to a physical tetrahedral version of the MACH model for classroom use (stage 2). Next, instructional materials were developed and then teaching activities were piloted with the physical MACH model. The activities were explored with students in a biochemistry class for science majors (cycle 1). Results were promising (stage 4), so the model and activities were refined for a second and third iteration of design-based research in a 100-level biology course (cycle 2) and a 300-level biochemistry course for health science students (cycle 3). To inform improvements in the MACH model and practical activities, student work was carefully examined and after each cycle (stage 2-3-4 iterations). The MACH model and instructional resources are available from Purdue ePubs in an easy-to-edit format so that others can modify them for use in their own context (see PIBERG Instructional Innovation Materials, A Tetrahedral Version of the MACH Model for Explaining Biological Mechanisms online at Trujillo is currently a Post-doctoral Researcher doing biology education research at Michigan State University.

For details, see the research report: An instructional design process based on expert knowledge for teaching students how mechanisms are explained by Trujillo, Anderson, & Pelaez, Advances in Physiology Education 40(2): 265-273.

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