Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Biological Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Alan White


Calls for reform in undergraduate STEM education have arisen from an increased need for well-trained biology graduates in the future scientific workforce. To address this need, many institutions have focused on a pedagogical restructuring of instructional practices to promote deeper conceptual understanding of core biological concepts. This study investigates the implementation of multimedia resources as a possible reliable supplement to undergraduate introductory biology and aims to provide empirical evidence on the instructional best practices of their use. As a central part of this study, we focus on one specific multimedia package, the Virtual Cell Animation Collection, due to its developmental adherence to research-supported multimedia design guidelines. Using resources from this one central source, we focus on the implementation of dynamic animations in biology instruction as part of three individual aims. Aim One concentrates on the comparison of static and dynamic images incorporated into a lecture-centered traditional classroom setting. Results show that the use of animation as part of instruction on two major introductory concepts resulted in significantly higher learning gains than when lectures only incorporating static imagery, suggesting their ability to promote learning on the topics. Aim Two investigates the use of dynamic molecular animations as part of instruction outside of the classroom as either preparation for or reinforcement of classroom instruction. Results show that animations assigned as either preparation for or reinforcement following classroom instruction on three common introductory concepts produced significantly higher learning gains than a non-treatment control group. Additionally, there was no significant difference in the direct comparison of the two outside of class interaction treatments. Aim Three focuses on the use of online learning module as a stand-alone method of instruction on two core topics. Results from this aim demonstrate the ability of these stand-alone learning modules to outperform traditional instruction. The focus on introductory biology instruction from the aspect of inside the classroom, outside of the classroom, and independent of the classroom provides an encompassing view of the major settings for student concept introduction. Together these results provide empirical evidence for the use of multimedia resources in the introductory biology classroom, ultimately answering the call for reform and redesign in the undergraduate STEM classroom.


© 2017, Eric Edward Goff