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Peer Review

The Synapse

by Bruce Alberts , Alexander Johnson , Julian Lewis , Martin Raff , Keith Roberts , Peter Walter , , , Cedric S. Raine


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Jan 05, 2014 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This is a brief narrated animation on how the neurotransmitter from the pre-synaptic neuron is released into the synaptic cleft and how its subsequent binding to receptors in the postsynaptic neuron brings about the transmission and propagation of the nerve impulse.
Type of Material: Narrated animation
Recommended Uses: • In-class lecture supplement • homework
Technical Requirements: Flash.
Identify Major Learning Goals: • Users will initially view electron micrograph of pre- and post-synaptic neurons and the synapse between them. • User will see and hear narration of how the neurotransmitter in the pre-synaptic neuron is released into the synaptic cleft, and how its binding with the receptors in the post-synaptic neuron brings about the propagation of action potential • User will learn what happens to the neurotransmitter after the action potential is generated
Target Student Population: Middle School, High School, College General Ed, College Lower Division
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Knowledge of some biological terms associated with the nervous system

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: • Material is accurate. • Micrograph clearly depicts the object being described, in this case the pre- and post-synaptic neurons and the synaptic clefts. • Narration is clear and concise. • Illustrates how neurotransmitters carry signal across synaptic cleft. • Illustrates role of calcium in neurotransmitter release.
Concerns: • Movement of ions across membrane driving nervous impulse is not well illustrated.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: • Narration helps students understand the relatedness of the topics as depicted in the animation. • Narration helps user focus on key concept, in this case the events that take place in the synapse. • Graphics and animation provide a visual and auditory enhancement for visual and auditory learners. • Illustrates a complex concept clearly. Easy to follow with good narration. • Could produce assignments based on the animation.
Concerns: • No assignments or test questions are provided. • A little simplistic with regards to ion transport across the membrane driving nervous impulses, which is key to this concept.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: • Narrations and animations played simultaneously without problems. • Information is easy to understand.
Concerns: • No closed caption text.