P448: Identifying and refining threshold concepts for biochemistry

Author: Jennifer Loertscher, Seattle University, USA

Co-Author: David Green, Jennifer Lewis and Vicky Minderhout, Seattle University, USA

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 9:35 AM9:55 AM

Room: HON 148

Related Symposium: S37

Threshold concepts are concepts that when mastered, represent a transformed understanding of a discipline, without which the learner cannot progress. Although threshold concepts have been researched for biology, no published threshold concepts exist for biochemistry. We have undertaken a process involving 75 educators and 46 undergraduates to identify threshold concepts for biochemistry. Three sources of information were used: faculty workshops, student interviews, and previously published data. After faculty workshops, a draft list of threshold concepts was investigated using student focus groups. Interviews confirmed that concepts identified by faculty were difficult for students and provided insights into specific concepts that were the fundamental stumbling blocks. Using an iterative process, we identified five threshold concepts: steady state, biochemical flux, physical basis of interactions, how interactions contribute to structure, and free energy. This list is not exhaustive, but rather is a subset of biochemistry threshold concepts for which instructional tools will be developed.