The Ionic Basis for the Action Potential web site is a one-page, concise description of how changes in membrane permeability and ionic conductance correlate with the action potential.
Type of Material:
The site is best suited for students in physiology, neuroscience and/or advanced psychology courses as an in-class tool or take-home reading assignment.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To learn how the conductance of sodium, potassium and chloride ions are altered to create the changes in the membrane potential during an action potential.
Target Student Population:
Mid to upper-division undergraduate students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
An introductory chemistry, physics and/or biology course.
Ratings for Content Quality: (4.0)(5.0) = 4.5
Brief, but coherent, explanation of membrane permeability and ionic conductance, and how these relate to action potential production.
The graph clearly correlates changes in conductance of sodium, potassium and chloride changes in membrane potential voltage during an action potential.
The explanation of the origin of the term "positive afterpotential" in the historical context of physiological experimentation should help students realize the impact of development of more advanced research tools - in this case, recording electrodes.
The site should have mentioned the ion distributions across the membrane in a resting neuron. A review of the chemical and biological forces responsible for this would also be helpful.
It might be beneficial to identify the chemical and electrical factors that alter membrane permiability in the neuron.
Although the site is easy to read, the information is restricted to this page. Links to outside infromation or examples would benefit the student.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Ratings for Potential Effectiveness: (2.7)(5.0) = 3.85
The site offers a clear and consice definition of pertinent terms and an excellent step-by-step explanation of the relationship between membrane permeability, ion conductance and membrane potential canges during the action potential.
Has an accurate and well-labeled graph plotting changes in membrane potential and ion conductance on the same time frame.
The information is not presented on the web any differently than what it would be in a text or other printed material. This reduces the possibility of increasing the conceptual understanding of the topic.
Students are not challenged to develop relationships with other related information.
The site does not identify the concentration and electrical gradients that exist across the membrane and how these are the driving forces for ion movement when membrane permeability changes. And consequently,
how these gradients are altered as a result in the change in permeability.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Ratings for Ease of Use: (5.0)(5.0) = 5.0
A single page with text and one graphic makes it very easy for the user.
Other Issues and Comments:
A clear and concise explanation of a topic that many students find daunting.
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