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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Connecting Concepts: Animal Physiology/Homeostasis 2: Ben's Bad Day: The Inside Story

by Jan Cheetham , Robert Jeanne
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.77 stars
Content Quality: 4.8 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.7 stars
Reviewed: Sep 16, 2005 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview:

Animal Physiology/Homeostasis/Bens Bad Day: The Inside Story is one of a series of interactive web-based lessons designed to give introductory undergraduate biology students opportunities to connect biology concepts. Each lesson is a series of screens that breaks the topic down into simple steps and then illustrates the connections between the steps to present the completed concept or process. An understanding of homeostasis is essential to understanding physiology of all living organisms; this site can be used as a supplement to the lecture to allow students to review the topic at their own pace and as many times as desired. This lesson topic leads the student through specific illustrations of how the nervous and endocrine systems maintain relatively constant levels of glucose in the blood. Animations clearly illustrate the process. A very good help screen is provided to help students use the lessons. The larger site containing the entire series will be very useful at the introductory level

Learning Goals:

The major goal of this lesson topic is to illustrate the details of how feedback is used to maintain homeostasis

Target Student Population:

High school (AP level) through college.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

Students will need to have a basic understanding of organ systems and their general functions.

Type of Material:

Tutorial.

Recommended Uses:

This site could be used in many ways. 1. As the basis of a classroom lecture presentation. 2. As an out-of-class assignment before the topic is covered in class. 3. As a study tool for students after topic is presented in class.

Technical Requirements:

Use of a current web browser will be required. Macromedia Flash Player 6 plug-in is required.


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.8 stars
Strengths:

  • Excellent application of basic physiology and neurology concepts to solve realistic homeostasis problems.
  • Contains a collection of nice flash animations that the students view, and then use interactively to answer fundamental physiological questions.
  • Would be well suited for a physiology course.
  • Site is highly interactive with numerous answers to be filled in by student.
  • Questions asked throughout lessons help student get feedback on understanding of concepts/process
  • Animations clearly connect the different parts of each process into a coherent whole.
Concerns:

  • Feedback referred to should specifically state that it is negative feedback.


Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:

  • Excellent tool for students to review concepts covered in class. Plenty of formative and summative questions for students to apply their knowledge.
  • A nice combination of theory, animations and interactive tutorials.
  • It would be easy to make assignments based on the tutorial, and integrate these into exam questions or a problem set.
  • Concepts taught in a story/game playing mode; easier to comprehend and retain.
  • Use of diabetes in a student both clarifies the types of disease and makes story more relevant to students.
  • Clearly demonstrates relationships between elements of each concept.
  • The site can be used in several ways: as a direct teaching tool in a distance learning course, as a lecture outline, as a review and study tool for students after topic covered in class.
  • Some of the questions asked will be challenging for introductory students.
  • Completion of plans for links to assessments and image/animation data bases will greatly enhance the usefulness of the site.
Concerns:

  • None


Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.7 stars
Strengths:

  • Very well organized, allowing students to move from topic to topic, or within a topic. The different topics are identified on the first page.
  • Links are active, graphics high quality, loads and plays quickly.
  • Instructions generally clear, especially when manipulating components and entering animations.
  • Instructors manual available; summarizes the contents of each of the lesson topics.
  • Glossary available for selected terms.
Concerns:

  • None


Other Issues and Comments:

This series of lessons has outstanding potential for use by faculty and students everywhere. The concepts are broken down to simple parts and then reassembled by an interactive process and animations into a whole. The interactivity and intuitive nature of this lesson make it easy for student to follow the story and learn about homeostasis. This particular lesson gives details of how a specific feedback system maintains blood glucose levels.