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Peer Review

The Biology Project: Cell Biology



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Aug 06, 2009 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This is just one part of the large Biology Project. This module includes several different sections over various aspects of cell biology, including: cell membranes, cell signaling, how to study cells, the cell cycle and mitosis, meiosis, differences between prokaryotes, eukaryotes and viruses, and the cytoskeleton. Each section has an overview and a short tutorial on the topic, with graphics and some animations. After the tutorial there are between 5 and 16 multiple choice questions over the material in the tutorial.  Selecting the correct answer results in a brief explanation of why the answer is correct.  Selecting an incorrect answer leads to a short tutorial with an explanation of the topic addressed by the question.  Students can access the tutorial before or after answering the question. There are also links to a few other cell biology sites, but no suggestions as to how to use them nor are the external links related directly to the question/tutorial topics.
Type of Material: Tutorial with quiz questions
Recommended Uses: Out of class review or assignments
Technical Requirements: Animations require quicktime or flash
Identify Major Learning Goals: •Learn the basic properties of cell membranes. •Learn how cells respond to signals in the environment •Learn how cells grow and divide •Learn how chromosomes are divided up in mitosis and meiosis •Learn about differences between the cells of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and about viruses •Learn about the cytoskeleton and how it is used to provide shape and movement
Target Student Population: It has been designed for biology students at the college level, but is useful for high school students, medical students, physicians, science writers, and all types of interested people.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic cell biology

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: •The material in the tutorials is accurate and clearly explained •Graphics and animations are high quality •Covers a broad range of cell biology topics in one place •Reasonably current, with actual research and clinical examples. •Practice tutorials cover important key concepts in cell biology.
Concerns: •Eukaryotic cell organelles get very little coverage •Cell signaling module has only a few figures, most of which will only be seen if a student chooses an incorrect answer •Links to outside web resources are not integrated into the tutorial material. •Lacks integration of the different sections into a bigger picture how cells function •Hasn't been updated since 2002.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: •Students get prompt feedback with explanations when they choose an incorrect answer •Effective use of graphics and very clear descriptions •Some questions require application of the knowledge real world problems •Includes a mixture of activities, including vocabulary links, problem sets, tutorials, and online labs.
Concerns: •Many of the questions only test recall of the material in the tutorial •Tutorial explanations after a wrong answer frequently just give the correct answer, without addressing the student misconception that produced the wrong answer

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: •Professional looking and well organized. •Easy to navigate and pages load quickly •There is a link at the top directly back to parent pages. •Nice visuals and animations.
Concerns: •None