Session S81 (Thursday, 9:30am, Thomas 104)

P962: One picture is worth a thousand data points: A textbook analysis of visualizations in biochemistry

Erika Offerdahl (North Dakota State University, USA)

Visualizations (e.g. graphs, diagrams, figures) are ubiquitous in science.  As scientists, we use them to communicate complex data sets, processes, and relationships to one another, our students, and the public.  The process by which a person extracts meaning from visualizations in biochemistry frequently requires one to translate across levels of organization (e.g. from the macroscopic down to the submicroscopic).  While biochemistry instruction makes extensive use of visualizations in textbooks, simulations, and lecture slides, it is unclear the degree to which such visualizations support students’ abilities to reason across levels of organization.  The goal of this study was to explore the degree to which visualizations in biochemistry textbooks (1) require students to translate across levels of organization and (2) make explicit the transition between levels.  Findings from an in-depth analysis of three major textbooks as well as implications for instruction will be discussed.

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