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Integrating Interactive Computational Modeling in Biology Curricula
Computational Biology
  • Tomáš Helikar, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Christine E. Cutucache, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Lauren M. Dahlquist, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Tyler A. Herek, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Joshua J. Larson, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Jim A. Rogers, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
3-19-2015
Disciplines
Abstract
While the use of computer tools to simulate complex processes such as computer circuits is normal practice in fields like engineering, the majority of life sciences/biological sciences courses continue to rely on the traditional textbook and memorization approach. To address this issue, we explored the use of the Cell Collective platform as a novel, interactive, and evolving pedagogical tool to foster student engagement, creativity, and higher-level thinking. Cell Collective is a Web-based platform used to create and simulate dynamical models of various biological processes. Students can create models of cells, diseases, or pathways themselves or explore existing models. This technology was implemented in both undergraduate and graduate courses as a pilot study to determine the feasibility of such software at the university level. First, a new (In Silico Biology) class was developed to enable students to learn biology by “building and breaking it” via computer models and their simulations. This class and technology also provide a non-intimidating way to incorporate mathematical and computational concepts into a class with students who have a limited mathematical background. Second, we used the technology to mediate the use of simulations and modeling modules as a learning tool for traditional biological concepts, such as T cell differentiation or cell cycle regulation, in existing biology courses. Results of this pilot application suggest that there is promise in the use of computational modeling and software tools such as Cell Collective to provide new teaching methods in biology and contribute to the implementation of the “Vision and Change” call to action in undergraduate biology education by providing a hands-on approach to biology.
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Copyright: © 2015 Helikar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

Citation Information
Tomáš Helikar, Christine E. Cutucache, Lauren M. Dahlquist, Tyler A. Herek, et al.. "Integrating Interactive Computational Modeling in Biology Curricula" Computational Biology Vol. 11 Iss. 3 (2015)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christine-cutucache/6/