Mastery of threshold concepts is paramount to the facilitation of higher order learning and is linked to student retention in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Conceptualising abstract processes in biology which are occurring at the microscopic level are inherently difficult for many students. One of the core principles of biology is that of the cell – all living organisms (animals, plants, fungi and bacteria) are composed of one or more cells. Everything we (as living organisms) are and do is possible because of the structure and function of our cells. In order to grasp the concept of ‘the cell’, an understanding of the cell membrane, the outer layer separating what is inside from what is outside, is essential. Student mastery of the concepts associated with cell membrane structure and function (osmosis, diffusion, active transport, concentration gradients, and channel function) has traditionally been shown difficult to achieve (Odom & Barrow, 1995). This project will use an action research approach to develop, deploy and evaluate a suite of visualisation resources in three consecutive service courses for biomedical science, allied health and associated STEM programs. The project will produce transferable resources that can be used and up-scaled into other STEM courses, diagnostic tools to evaluate threshold concepts, and technical guidelines for the production of other 3D immersive visualisations. Evaluation strategies will show if and how immersive stereoscopic 3D visualisation experiences (with associated suite of resources) improves student mastery of threshold concepts and excites interest in biology. This research will contribute to the development of stateof-the-art pedagogy in science. In order to explore the threshold concept and develop the associated visual artefacts we will use diagnostic assessment tools. The Osmosis and Diffusion Conceptual Assessment (ODCA) is a diagnostic test developed and modified by Fisher et al. (2011) from an original diagnostic test, the Diffusion and Osmosis Diagnostic Test (DODT) by Odom and Barrow (1995). The ODCA relies on a student not only getting questions about the concept correct, but choosing a correct reason for their answer. Questions are asked in nine “item pairs” and choice of the incorrect reasoning items can elaborate on misconceptions (Fisher et al., 2011). Based on the format of the ODCA two more diagnostic assessment tools the Active Transporter Conceptual Assessment (ATCA) and the Channel Conceptual Assessment (CCA), will be developed and implemented within this project. This presentation will report on our progress to date on a Commissioned Learning and Teaching Grant - Visualisation - which commenced in February 2016.
2016 Learning & Teaching Week: 2020 Teaching Visions. 2020 - What's Next?, Sunshine Coast, Australia 31 October - 4 November 2016