A Study of the Impact of Kinesthetic Learning on Biology Students’ Mastery of Protein Structure and Folding Concepts using Legos™
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Through a number of personal experiences teaching and tutoring biology courses, as well as having a minor obsession with Legos, I began to ask the question, how can Legos be used in higher education? Current research indicates a shift in student learning styles. Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, reminds us that “learning isn’t about memorizing isolated facts. It’s about connecting and manipulating them.” Keeping this in mind I developed a pilot study using college level students pursuing degrees in Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry. This study compared the use of a didactic lecture and an interactive Lego learning activity to teach a biological concept (protein structure and folding). There were some intriguing and unexpected results. The 11 item pre/post-test of students’ comprehension of the information indicated that students in the Power Point lecture cohort performed higher then the Lego cohort. Interest levels and confidence levels towards the subject taught increased more in the Power Point group than the Lego group. A survey of the students’ learning styles revealed that a majority of the students preferred a multimodal; with a kinesthetic theme reoccurring. The smallest learning style groups were those who solely preferred aural learning or read/write learning. Based on the results and research, creative teaching suggestions were made. Despite the paradoxical results from this small study, additional research must be conducted that measures the long-term retention of the material taught.