Asee peer logo

Novel Module Improves Interdisciplinary Learning Of Glomerular Filtration

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.964.1 - 11.964.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Joseph Bonventre HST Division, Harvard and MIT

author page

Heather Gunter Harvard University

author page

Sarah Henrickson Harvard University

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Novel Module Improves Interdisciplinary Learning of Glomerular Filtration

ABSTRACT The concepts underlying capillary filtration are fundamental topics in physiology courses taught to medical students and undergraduate and graduate biomedical engineering students. Students report anecdotally that this material is difficult to master. Furthermore, overall exam performance does not correlate with performance on questions regarding capillary filtration. A module that presents capillary filtration in the context of glomerular filtration has been developed and incorporated into the curriculum of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology renal pathophysiology course.

Module design is based on the learning and teaching principles outlined in How People Learn (Bransford, 2000). It replaces traditional instruction of the same material, which consisted of a lecture, paper based problem set and assigned textbook reading. The module replaces the traditional problem set and textbook reading with two interactive on-line exercises that present content and provide real time formative assessment to students. The first exercise is assigned prior to the lecture and presents basic concepts including hydrostatic and oncotic pressure. Student performance and feedback collected during this exercise informs the lecture content and thus tailors it to the learners. A novel Java simulation of glomerular filtration that permits manipulation of independent variables while displaying the dependent variables is projected during the lecture. It expands the range of examples that are presented by the lecturer and facilitates interaction between students and the lecturer. Feedback from students and faculty was positive, and has led to improvements in the module implementation.

Knowledge based outcomes demonstrate that students taught using the module have improved mastery of the three learning objectives (effect sizes = 0.46, 0.42, 0.25) than those taught using traditional instructional techniques. This assessment was derived from comparison of rubric- based scores of student responses to exam questions following traditional instruction (n=39) and module based instruction (n=46).

In addition, we have found that both student undergraduate major and student graduate program had an impact in their preference of learning tools, when asked to choose between the capillary filtration module versus a more traditional textbook and problem set used to teach the same material. While a majority of all students prefer the new module, Ph.D. students showed a greater preference than MD or MD/PhD students and students with an undergraduate background in biomedical engineering showed a greater preference that those who majored in biological or physical sciences.

Future efforts will focus on dissemination to other classrooms, such as the undergraduate physiology class at Northwestern University, which has already used the module, as well as continued improvements to insure that students from all backgrounds find the module accessible and useful.

Bonventre, J., & Gunter, H., & Henrickson, S. (2006, June), Novel Module Improves Interdisciplinary Learning Of Glomerular Filtration Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1238

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015