A Qualitative Description of Biochemistry Students’ Visuospatial Reasoning Difficulties Associated with Amino Acid Models


  • Lindelani Mnguni University of the Witwatersrand




The adoption of multimedia learning tools, including visual models in biochemistry, has increased considerably over the last few decades. Adopting these tools necessitates the development of visual literacy competencies, such as visuospatial reasoning, for students to learn effectively. The extent to which biochemistry students have the necessary visuospatial reasoning skills to learn from visual models effectively is a subject of continuing research. The current qualitative research sought to describe biochemistry students’ visuospatial reasoning difficulties associated with amino acids. Seven purposively selected students were interviewed using a semi-structured protocol to solicit their learning difficulties when asked to perform specific tasks related to visuospatial reasoning. The research question explored in this study is: “What are biochemistry students’ visuospatial reasoning difficulties associated with amino acids models?” Learning difficulties related to perceiving spatial orientation, mental rotation, interpreting colour codes, and generating a visual model depicting spatial depth were identified. Identifying and describing these learning difficulties could help teachers adopt remediation strategies to enhance content understanding. The researcher concludes that students may not always have the visuospatial reasoning skills required for successful learning in biochemistry. Given the complex nature of visual literacy, the researcher recommends explicit remediation strategies to address learning difficulties associated with visuospatial reasoning in biochemistry.






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