1537 Views
  1. Kristen Procko
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. BioMolViz
  1. Josh Beckham
  2. Associate Professor of Practice
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Texas at Austin
  1. Dan Dries
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Juniata College, BioMolViz
  1. Henry Jakubowski
  2. http://employees.csbsju.edu/hjakubowski/
  3. Professor
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. College of St. Benedict & St. John's Univ
  1. Rebecca Roberts
  2. https://www.ursinus.edu/live/profiles/49-rebecca-roberts
  3. Associate Professor
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  1. Alberto Roca
  2. Executive Director
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. BioMolViz
  1. Audrey Shor
  2. Associate Professor of Biology
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. BioMolViz

RCN-UBE: Development of an Inclusive Community for the Instruction of Visuali...

NSF Awards: 1920270

2020 (see original presentation & discussion)

Undergraduate

A student’s ability to understand and interpret visual images and models of biomolecules is critical to understanding molecular function and plays a key role in developing expertise in the field. Images of biomolecular structures can vary greatly as students are presented with representations of cell membranes, organelles, macromolecules, and biochemical pathways. Students must be able to visualize and extract meaning from these representations to obtain a deep understanding of fundamental biochemical concepts (e.g. structure-function relationships). The challenge of addressing students’ conceptions of images points to a need for explicit instruction in the interpretation of visual images. However, this type of guidance in the process of building visual literacy is rare.

BioMolViz is a community of educators dedicated to improving biomolecular visualization instruction. Through our NSF-funded workshops, we are creating peer-reviewed resources that will enable instructors to assess students’ visual literacy. Our goal is to make these assessments broadly available for classroom use. Learn about biomolecular visualization, our community-driven approach for creating assessments, and how BioMolViz can assist instructors in building visual literacy in their classrooms.

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Original Discussion from the 2020 STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Kristen Procko

    Kristen Procko

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 4, 2020 | 03:49 p.m.

    Thanks for taking the time to watch our video! To get the conversation going, our research team is interested in hearing about your experience with visualization. Have you ever struggled to understand a diagram or image in a textbook, or even an instruction manual for assembling a tricky piece of furniture? We'd enjoy hearing about a time that a diagram, animation, video, or other visual helped you understand a challenging concept.

    Our workshops bring instructors together to write questions and activities for students. If you've led or attended similar workshops, we'd appreciate hearing your perspective about:

    1. What makes a workshop effective and enjoyable?
    2. In light of current events, we're considering online workshops. Any insight on creating engaging and interactive online experiences?

  • Icon for: Stephen Alkins

    Stephen Alkins

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 06:34 p.m.

    1. The effectiveness and enjoyment of any workshop depend upon the flexibility of the facilitator.  A facilitator should certainly be able to connect any material, especially STEM-based, to real-world contexts.  Also, the facilitator should take the time to know his/her/their audience to not only understand their perspectives, but also to incorporate them as part of the process.

    2. For those who do have access to online resources and capabilities, perhaps engaging people in rounds of online "pictionary" where students and/or facilitators have to draw their own versions of molecules and compounds would be helpful to consider new ways to visualize things.  Additionally you could have people create 3-dimensional models of molecules or compounds made from household items (e.g. crude models of proteins).

  • Icon for: Kristen Procko

    Kristen Procko

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 5, 2020 | 08:49 p.m.

    The crude protein model with household items is a great idea! In our in-person workshops, we usually have an icebreaker where one person explains to another how to assemble a small Lego kit, often with some interesting results. That activity illuminates just how challenging it is to articulate an abstract idea, and gets everyone excited to start working. Having people discuss home built protein models could be a neat virtual replacement. Thanks for the note!

  • Icon for: Alberto Roca

    Alberto Roca

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 10:13 p.m.

    Dr Alkins, Thank you very much for your answers here & your questions down below! I notice that you’re a Diversity Officer at TERC. Part of my contribution to the https://BioMolViz.org team is diversity outreach so that we can broaden the pool of students and especially faculty who are aware of and using the concepts/tools that we develop. I led sessions about structural biochemistry techniques and our visualization education advice at both SACNAS and ABRCMS conferences in the past. What advice do you have about:


    a) publicizing education innovations to diverse audiences?


    b) incorporating DE&I in our work so that the pedagogy is culturally sensitive?


    Thanks!

     
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    Stephen Alkins
  • Icon for: Stephen Alkins

    Stephen Alkins

    Facilitator
    May 8, 2020 | 01:28 p.m.

    Hi Dr. Roca,

         Thank you for your questions.  In terms of publicizing an innovation like this to diverse audiences, I think what you are doing is certainly a good start.  How did your sessions fair in terms of garnering new users?  National conferences like SACNAS and ABRCMS can be good opportunities to grab students/new users.  At these conferences, however, students and professionals are inundated with so much other information that you may not obtain the attention you need. 

    • a) If you are trying to reach students, perhaps try developing a relationship with a specific HBCU, PBI, HSI, TCU, etc. and work with their departments that may benefit the most from your innovation.  Also, when you speak to these departments you can tailor your sessions to understand the other populations that are at their institutions (e.g. neurodiverse learners, etc.).  This would certainly give you some focus group data. 
    • I've also thought about this as another NSF proposal.  One of the limitations of expanding research capacity at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) is knowledge of educational technology and access.  Perhaps hosting a research institute or series of conferences that rotate among community colleges and MSIs and that trains faculty and students on novel innovations (how to use, capabilities, etc.) and grants access to these tools would improve usage and student preparation (I need to better articulate this, but hopefully you get my idea).  It brings your tool to the intended audiences and allows them an uninterrupted environment to consider how it will help their institution and students.
    • b) The first thing I would do is simply look at the history of some developed STEM tools/technologies.  Examine the development process to identify shortcomings (e.g. facial-recognition software and the lack of racial/ethnic diversity in their team).  This will illustrate one facet of why having a diverse team is essential to creating any technology.  You could also examine the history of contributions from underrepresented communities to biochemistry (these are all general ways to become culturally sensitive)
    • More specifically, I would encourage the recruitment of diverse perspectives from the nascent stages (focus groups) to understand what tools these communities need and what support they will need for implementation.  It can be in addition to finding developers from underrepresented backgrounds.  This grants a sense of ownership in the development process and a stronger commitment. 

         I hope this helps, and if you or anyone on the team would like to talk more, please feel free to contact me. Again, great project!

    Stephen

  • May 5, 2020 | 01:08 p.m.

    Wow! Love this! As a biochemist, I look forward to seeing the program in motion ... and helping students ultimately link structure to function!

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kristen Procko
  • Icon for: Alberto Roca

    Alberto Roca

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 01:26 p.m.

    Thanks for the kind words! I'm a member of our volunteer working group. I'm a MoBio biochemist by training but now an independent bioinformatics researcher. Please check out our BioMolViz.org website for more info and sign-up for our newsletter for more information (Contact page). Our working group are ASBMB members so I hope we'll meet-up at a future ExpBio conference where we typically report our latest results. Here's an introduction from the ASBMB Today magazine (archived version).

    Please let us know how you would want us to deliver molecular visualization assessments in a convenient manner for your instruction. Our repository of curated questions is in development so we're taking user suggestions. Also, let us know if it would be helpful to have tutorials on using molecular viz software tools for educational use. We are developing an online PyMOL workshop that we are piloting this summer. We also have Chimera experts in the group and so may develop a customized tutorial for that tool as well as other educational resources, too.

    Chao!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Stephen Alkins
    Kristen Procko
    Gwendolyn Stovall
  • Small default profile

    Kevin Simmons

    K-12 Teacher
    May 5, 2020 | 03:16 p.m.

    Tremendously useful tools. Thank you and good success to you and your team.

  • Icon for: Kristen Procko

    Kristen Procko

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 5, 2020 | 06:35 p.m.

    Thanks for checking out our project! 

  • Icon for: Susan Kowalski

    Susan Kowalski

    Researcher
    May 5, 2020 | 05:20 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your work with this video. Do your resources to assess student visual literacy align with a particular grade band? The images in your video look like they are designed for high school or college students, and I am curious about molecular visualization and visual literacy for middle school.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kristen Procko
  • Icon for: Kristen Procko

    Kristen Procko

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 5, 2020 | 06:34 p.m.

    Thanks for checking out our project! We are focused on developing tools for undergraduates, but many of the softwares we use (JMol, Chimera, PyMOL) are free, and have a reasonably simple graphical user interface. I don't think it's ever too early to introduce students to structure—the representations really wow them, and that wow factor really helps to build lifelong interest! Online tools like Protopedia can allow students to interact without even downloading a program: http://proteopedia.org/wiki/index.php/DNA 

     
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    Stephen Alkins
  • Icon for: Rebecca Roberts

    Rebecca Roberts

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 08:23 a.m.

    Another great resource is PDB-101 https://pdb101.rcsb.org/. The Molecule of the Month is a great tool to introduce the importance of structure to students in middle school and beyond.

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Stephen Alkins
    Kristen Procko
  • Icon for: Stephen Alkins

    Stephen Alkins

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 06:43 p.m.

    Great synopsis of your project.  I have a couple of questions:

    • Where would you position this course in a student's STEM curriculum? Would it be treated as a supplement to a particular course, or its own independent course?
    • I saw some of the concepts that are essential to molecular visualization.  I may have missed it, but do you teach any specific tools that support students creating their own models?
    • What results have you reported in students' improved performances in Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry courses, etc.?

         Thank you for sharing this video!!!   

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: Rebecca Roberts

    Rebecca Roberts

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 08:29 a.m.

    Hello Sephen - thanks for the great questions. The BioMolViz group is passionate about educating educators on the importance of visual literacy. It's not a specific course, per se, but we encourage everyone to see the value of visual literacy at all levels. Aspects of visual literacy can begin early (even in elementary school) but we focus more on the undergraduate and post-graduate level. At the undergraduate level we suggest that these ideas need to be present in both intro and advanced courses. 

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Stephen Alkins
  • Icon for: Bonnie Hall

    Bonnie Hall

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 7, 2020 | 01:09 p.m.

    I have used the BioMolViz competencies with my students, who do create their own models when making Proteopedia pages for an upper division Biochemistry course.  It was really helpful for scoring their projects, to have a list of novice through expert skills.  Helped me keep the assignment workload reasonable, and made grading much easier.  And I could see an improvement in the students' skills as they worked on generating their own digital models.

  • Icon for: Wendy Smith

    Wendy Smith

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 08:21 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing about your visual literacy project. Is your work targeting undergraduate biology courses, or does it also extend to high school courses (or vice versa)? Do you ever find some of the instructors also lack visual literacy?

  • Icon for: Dan Dries

    Dan Dries

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 10:53 p.m.

    Thanks for watching our video, Wendy! We encourage visual literacy broadly. Our assessments for *biomolecular* visual literacy are largely geared towards undergraduates, as this is where most students are exposed to using software to explore complicated submicroscopic structures. However, we have partnered with others who are interested in bringing visual literacy into secondary schools.
    Your question about instructors is a really interesting one, and one we've never explored. Instructors generally report a wide variety of comfort with software - from newbies to veterans. However, I believe instructors have enough training to be able to infer or construct a close understanding of an image (or fake it :) ). Really great question!

  • Icon for: Feng Liu

    Feng Liu

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 09:53 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting project! It looks BioMolViz is a great tool to help educators to teach biomedical and/or biochemistry courses. I would like to know more about how you will evaluate the impact of these workshops on student-level (e.g., interest in biology, course grades) and/or teacher-level (e.g., instructional efficacy) outcomes. Is it a within-group only design and looking at the change before and after? Or there will be a control group? How are you going to measure these outcomes?

  • Icon for: Kristen Procko

    Kristen Procko

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 12:02 p.m.

    Hi Feng, thanks for checking out our project. Currently, the goal is to build a repository of assessments that instructors can use to evaluate students' visual literacy through our workshops. We are vetting the repository questions with a team of experts, and then will evaluate student performance on the questions through a statistical model (Rasch model) to see which questions will be included in the final version of the repository. Those that plan to pilot the questions in their classrooms are self-selected from our community, so they are instructors that are already thinking about improving student visual literacy. 

    At that point, we'll be able to use the vetted assessments to evaluate some of the outcomes you've touched on. That's a bit down the road, but looking at ability before and after an instructional intervention will likely be the most practical approach. Instructors that express interest in our work are somewhat self-selecting in that they want to build their visualization instruction skills and promote visual literacy, so I'm not sure about what we'd use as a control group, but it would be interesting to explore.

    I've used biomolecular visualization pre- and post-tests in my own courses, and they've been incredibly informative and have guided changes in the way I teach visualization in my own course from semester to semester. I hope we will be able to provide instructors with valuable assessments that will allow them to do similar studies. Thanks for the questions! 

  • Icon for: Feng Liu

    Feng Liu

    Facilitator
    May 9, 2020 | 12:25 p.m.

    Thanks for the detailed explanation, Kristen. Yes, I agree that having a reliable and valid test of student visual literacy is the prerequisite to evaluate the impact of the workshops on this outcome. I also see the difficulty of including a control group during the evaluation. You might still want to explore the possibility because it would definitely increase the rigor of the study.

  • Small default profile

    Paula Lemons

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 7, 2020 | 05:14 p.m.

    Nice video! Nice work. Thanks for sharing.

  • Icon for: Audrey Shor

    Audrey Shor

    Co-Presenter
    May 8, 2020 | 11:12 a.m.

    Thank you for considering our project Paula! Do you use Molecular Visualization in your pedagogy?

  • Icon for: Jill Rhoden

    Jill Rhoden

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2020 | 07:49 a.m.

    Great project!  Our program (High School Research Initiative) incorporates the use of PyMOL in the research collaboration of the course (Thanks to Dr. Beckham!).  Are workshops available for high school teachers?

     

  • Icon for: Henry Jakubowski

    Henry Jakubowski

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2020 | 08:02 a.m.

    Hi Jill,

    Thanks for your comment.  Our rubric for assessing biomolecular visualization literacy targets novice to expert learners, but we spend most of our efforts on novice learners, those beginning their exploration of biomolecules.  If the HS students are using PyMol in the research course, that sound likes at least novice to me.  I don't remember any high school teachers in past workshops (but that could be my memory).  I think it is a good idea!

    Henry J

  • May 11, 2020 | 06:27 p.m.

    Great work on organizing these principles of proficient visualization.  As a fellow visualizer it is great to see ;>): feel flow fluently across representations.  Much love, this is a great resource for projects visual fluency.   

  • Icon for: Henry Jakubowski

    Henry Jakubowski

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2020 | 11:05 a.m.

    Thanks Michael!  It's amazing how little we seem to know about how our conceptions of space and different cultural frameworks of space both limit and inform how we interpret our world.  Your work is really interesting.  Some people have studied how dance set to biomolecular interactions might assist concept and visual literacy.  Just as an aside, I went to a national climate change meeting and listened to two different people talk about how they must navigate everyday through the space of the dominant culture (in this case white and male).  As someone who is mathematically inclined and into visualization at the macro and micro level, it blew me away that the space I occupy as a white male must be navigated through by so many.  How sad but at the same time it shows how extensive and how encompassing entranced isms (racism, sexism, etc) are.  Somehow thinking about it geometrically really hit me.  I digress but so much of how we perceive, learn and react are not known but your work helps illuminate it for us.  The data is there, we just need to access it. 

  • Icon for: Henry Jakubowski

    Henry Jakubowski

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2020 | 07:02 p.m.

    Thanks MIchael!  It's amazing how little we seem to know about how our conceptions of space and different cultural frameworks of space both limit and inform how we interpret our world.  Your work is really interesting.  Some people have studied how dance set to biomolecular interactions might assist concept and visual literacy.  Just as an aside, I went to a national climate change meeting and listened to two different people talk about how they must navigate everyday through the space of the dominant culture (in this case white and male).  As someone who is mathematically inclined and into visualization at the macro and micro level, it blew me away that the space I occupy as a white male must be navigated through by so many.  How sad but at the same time it shows how extensive and how encompassing entranced isms (racism, sexism, etc) are.  Somehow thinking about it geometrically really hit me.  I digress but so much of how we perceive, learn and react are not known but your work helps illuminate it for us.  The data is there, we just need to access it. 

  • May 12, 2020 | 11:10 a.m.

    Great work! Assessing prior knowledge and not assuming mastery is so important.

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