Cellular processes that rely on knowledge of molecular behavior are difficult for students to comprehend. For example, thorough understanding of meiosis requires students to integrate several complex concepts related to chromosome structure and function. Using a grounded theory approach, we have unified classroom observations, assessment data, and in-depth interviews under the theory of knowledge transfer to explain student difficulties with concepts related to chromosomal behavior. In this paper, we show that students typically understand basic chromosome structure but do not activate cognitive resources that would allow them to explain macromolecular phenomena (e.g., homologous pairing during meiosis). To improve understanding of topics related to genetic information flow, we suggest that instructors use pedagogies and activities that prime students for making connections between chromosome structure and cellular processes.
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Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)
Newman, Dina L.; Catavero, Christina M.; and Wright, Leslie Kate, "Students Fail to Transfer Knowledge of Chromosome Structure to Topics Pertaining to Cell Division" (2012). CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11 (4), 425-436. Accessed from
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