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Kevin Bacon, Tactical Warfare, And Protein Networks An Interactive Online Quantitative Cellular Biology Learning Module

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Biology in Engineering

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.855.1 - 11.855.23



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Paper Authors


Matthew Verleger Purdue University

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Matthew Verleger is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Engineering Education (ENE) at Purdue University. He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering and his M.S. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, both from Purdue. He is the head teaching assistant for the introductory problem solving and computer tools course and recipient of the 2005 Graduate Student Teaching Award for the Department of Engineering Education. His research interests include online learning modules, visualization of problems, and evaluation of education technology.

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Heidi Diefes-Dux Purdue University

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Heidi Diefes-Dux is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education (ENE) at Purdue University with a joint appointment in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE). She is the chair of the ENE Graduate Committee and she is a member of the Teaching Academy at Purdue. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from ABE in 1997. Her research interests include open-ended problem solving, evaluation of education technology, and first-year and graduate curriculum development.

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Jenna Rickus Purdue University

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Dr. Rickus joined the Purdue faculty in 2003 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She recently created two new multidisciplinary courses on Biosensors and Nonlinear Dynamics in Biological Systems and teaches to a diverse group of students from multiple areas of engineering and science. She herself is dually trained (engineering and biology) with degrees in engineering, biochemistry, and neuroscience.

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Kevin Bacon, Tactical Warfare, and Protein Networks - An Interactive Online Quantitative Cellular Biology Learning Module Abstract

BIOL 295F – Introductory Quantitative Cellular Biology was first offered at a Midwest US Research I institution during the fall 2004 semester. An online learning module on protein networks was designed and implemented for the second offering of the course during the fall 2005 semester. The overarching design goal was to create an online module to help students develop a large scale mental model of biomolecule interactions as a formal network. The application of network theory to biochemical networks provides a new view on cell function and stands to make a significant contribution to future advances in systems and computational biology. By taking advantage of advances in technology, the online module was developed to provide both visual representations of networks, so as to help engineering students best learn using their preferred learning style, and interactive learning features to engage students in the necessary higher-level critical thinking.

This paper will highlight the design, implementation, and assessment of the new online learning module. Student learning gains were assessed using pre-post quiz questions focused on concepts presented in the online learning module. In addition, students' actual use of the tool and their perceptions of the interactive online learning modules versus other modes of instruction were evaluated through the use of an attitudinal survey.


Bioengineering includes the study of biological phenomena using the fundamental principles of engineering. Despite the rapid growth of bioengineering as a field of study for undergraduate students, the development of educational materials for bioengineering instructors has failed to keep pace. Until only a few years ago, the subject of bioengineering was predominantly limited to graduate level coursework and research labs. Only in recent years, due in part to the burgeoning of interdisciplinary research and the general increased growth of technology, has bioengineering found its way into the undergraduate curriculum. Despite the proliferation into undergraduate coursework, most instructors are limited to professional journal articles or complex tools aimed at those working in the field. Many of the textbooks covering bioengineering topics are outdated before they even arrive in bookstores and are rarely targeted towards teaching introductory material1. In a report on the progress of bioengineering as an independent field of study, Johnson2 explicitly states, “We have yet to develop texts and other teaching materials in biological engineering.” Moreover, because of the scale, complexity, and interdisciplinary nature of the study of most bioengineering phenomena, the development and implementation of hands-on experiments can be both costly and challenging at the early undergraduate level.

Though the growth of the internet has led to a general increase in web-based tools, those available to students for learning introductory cellular biology are still severely deficient in a number of areas. First, the majority of engineering students are classified as visual learners. In a

Verleger, M., & Diefes-Dux, H., & Rickus, J. (2006, June), Kevin Bacon, Tactical Warfare, And Protein Networks An Interactive Online Quantitative Cellular Biology Learning Module Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1075

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