A Metabolic Challenge on CD-ROM

Marie-Paule Van Damme


We have introduced a novel approach to the learning of metabolism by undergraduate students of biochemistry by providing them, on CD-ROM, with an intellectual challenge relating to 'real world' metabolic problems.

The CD-ROM Biochemistry - A Metabolic Challenge is an integral component of our course curriculum but has been introduced with different emphasis into the different undergraduate Biochemistry courses. For science students, the programs are an adjunct to formal lectures and part of problem-solving sessions that are a component of the practical classes. For biomedical and medical students, who are high academic achievers, the CD-ROM is also used for selfdirected learning and case studies whereby students are expected to take more responsibility for their own learning.

The problem-solving exercises, entitled The Great Metabolic Race and The After Race Banquet, explore the metabolic changes that occur to an athlete during a long distance race, and the subsequent recovery phase. The exercises are question/problem based and interactive, requiring students to analyse the questions, think logically and respond by integrating information drawn from a variety of sources. A set of thirteen self-paced, interactive tutorials covering the fundamentals of metabolism are linked to these exercises to act as one resource. While the answers to the questions do not appear in the tutorials, the information required to formulate the answers does. The CD-ROM is used for self-directed learning to help students visualize pathways and the relationship between them, and to integrate the knowledge they have acquired from various sources. It also contains case studies to teach students how these pathways are affected in specific clinical cases.

Surveys have shown that students respond particularly well to the participatory nature of this new resource and find the self-paced learning and testing very valuable. We also have preliminary indications that the use of these programs does translate into improved student comprehension as judged by examination performance.

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