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Understanding the structure of proteins for college students, in view of mental models

Grant number: 11/04537-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2011
Effective date (End): July 31, 2012
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biochemistry
Principal Investigator:Nelma Regina Segnini Bossolan
Grantee:Marília Faustino da Silva
Host Institution: Instituto de Física de São Carlos (IFSC). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:98/14138-2 - Center for Structural Molecular Biotechnology, AP.CEPID


Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, and their underlying concepts are embedded in the curriculum of basic education and have been more present in everyday life, bringing up ethical issues involved in the production and application of scientific and technological knowledge, calling for reflection, analysis and decision making, both for students who continue their studies in related careers and for those who do not. The explanations of some phenomena and processes related to these themes are almost always in molecular and atomic level, which can not be seen, but which is described and explained with physical and conceptual models, or even through pictures. In light of the mental models theory of Johnson-Laird, some people reason with images, using them in their models, making rotations, translations and expansions; however, not all use this thought process because they have difficulty in inferring the three-dimensional structure from static pictures, diagrams and two-dimensional photos used in textbooks or projected on screens in classrooms. To overcome this obstacle, some authors suggest that the use of physical models (tactile) provide a better understanding about the issue, since it can bend allowing the visualization of conformational changes of molecules such as proteins, for example, besides emphasizing the dynamic nature of biological processes. In this context it is proposed to evaluate the contribution of the teaching material "Building models of amino acids and proteins" (Silva, 2000) for teaching and learning of protein structure and function of higher education students. (AU)

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
SILVA, Marília Faustino da. Understanding of protein structure by higher education students, under the perspective of Johnson-Laird\'s mental models theory. 2012. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Física de São Carlos (IFSC/BT) São Carlos.

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