- Peer Review: Transcription (DNA to RNA)
Transcription (DNA to RNA)
- Jan 20, 2007 by Biology
This module on Transcription (DNA to RNA) is from the Supersite "DNA From the Beginning." Francis Cricks Central Dogma of DNA makes RNA makes Protein is described through experiments by scientists such as Paul Zamecnik, Mahlon Hoagland, Mary Stephensen, and Sydney Brenner. Investigations are explained in this learning object, to show how mRNA, rRNA, and tRNA (along with aminoacyl tRNA synthetases) work together in protein synthesis. This unit is organized as a set of several dozen concepts that delineate how scientists came to understand the fundamental ideas. This tutorial begins with a brief outline of the questions that lead to understanding the mechanisms involved. A more in-depth examination of the concepts is achieved through the animation menu, which accesses an animated tutorial of the basic experimental design(s) that lead to the understanding of the principle. The thought process used to fit each clue into the solution is detailed in a step-by-step description with animations. Starting with the realization that there must be a way to transfer information from the DNA to where proteins are made and that there would have to be a connector molecule to align amino acids with the coded information, the tutorial details the mechanism of protein synthesis and the experiments that determined it. Users may access the "Problem" menu, which presents several multiple choice questions requiring interpretation of the experimental results presented in the tutorial. The questions are instantly graded, providing immediate feedback. Additional menus are: the "Picture Gallery," with images of historical photographs of researchers, lab, and laboratory equipment used in the experiments described; the "Audio/Video" menu, that presents QuickTime interviews with researchers who discuss the concept in more detail; and a "Biography" menu, providing further information about the key scientists. A "Links" menu provides further bibliographic information, as well as links to additional relevant sites.
- Type of Material:
Tutorial and Animation / Interactive Lesson
- Recommended Uses:
This material can be used in lecture or for independent study to learn about molecular genetics. It would be a good out of class activity to either supplement or enrich regular class materials. It could also be part of an online learning course.
- Technical Requirements:
An internet browser with Flash Player and QuickTime are needed to see animations and view video clips.
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
Describe how Zamecnik, Hoagland, and Brenner determined the existence of messenger RNA, ribosomes, and transfer RNA and how they fit into the puzzle.
- Target Student Population:
Advanced high school as well as undergraduate and graduate students.
- Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No prerequisite knowledge is required, but some background in chemistry, genetics, and molecular biology may help users better understand the information.
- Very clear and accurate description of the experiments by Zamecnik, Hoagland, and Brenner that determined the existence of messenger RNA, ribosomes, and transfer RNA and how they fit into the puzzle of protein synthesis.
- Content follows logical progression both conceptually and temporally.
- Animations accurately represent experimental designs presented.
- Exceptional combination of animation and video interviews.
- The breadth of coverage is impressive and complete.
- Emphasizes scientific approach to understanding through clear explanations of how the evidence was used to construct the model of DNAhow we know, not just what we know.
- Rich source of information on personalities, history, and current thought on these concepts.
- The parts of the overall site could be better labeled to make it easier for users to determine what each section is about.
- The site needs more video interviews from other scientists in addition to the excellent clips of Paul Zamecnik. These interviews are valuable tools for learning and understanding the methods of science.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- Excellent source of tutorial information
- Tutorials promote understanding of basic concepts and contain more than one approach to understanding the concept.
- Tutorial animations and problems lend themselves to the creation of additional questions such as "where do we go from here?"
- Interactive quizzes provide immediate reasons for correct and incorrect answers--reinforces understanding.
- Video interviews with famous scientists provide motivation for student learning
- The animations represent an excellent collection of scientific reasoning and logic, and focus on "how we know" not just "what we know." The animations frequently begin with a famous scientist posing a problem to be solved. This approach may make more of a connection between the results of a classical experiment and the mind behind the reasoning. The constant flow of scientific reasoning from unit to unit provides a clear and impressive thread of logic showing how scientists realized that DNA is the genetic material.
- Animated portions of the tutorial greatly help user to understand the procedures used in the experiment and how the conclusions were drawn from the results.
- The tutorials could be improved by adding sound and expanding upon the interactivity of some of the Flash Player animations.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- Clear and accurate instructions.
- Well designed, easy to navigate, intuitive and fast.
- Widespread and effective use of animation.
- Audio glossary gives detailed explanation of term as well as pronunciation.
- Organization of tutorial leads the user through the concept.
- Excellent use of Flash Player and QuickTime video clips.
- Other Issues and Comments:
The animations represent an excellent collection of scientific reasoning and logic, and focus on "how we know" not just "what we know." The animations frequently begin with a famous scientist posing a problem to be solved. This approach may make more of a connection between the results of a classical experiment and the mind behind the reasoning. The constant flow of scientific reasoning from unit to unit provides a clear and impressive thread of logic showing how scientists realized that DNA is the genetic material. It might help to add more video interviews from other scientists, especially where there is only one person featured in the video clips. Perhaps modern scientists could substitute for those who cannot be interviewed. A few female and minority scientists would be a plus for this part of the site. These interviews are valuable tools for learning and understanding the methods of science. The authors might consider adding sound and expand upon the interactivity of some of the Flash Player animations.
- Creative Commons: