A college student becomes more engaged in biology after using an online program Arnab Ray, Pennsylvania

A college student becomes more engaged in biology after using an online program

LEARNER SUCCESS STORY

Interactive learning helps an aspiring medical researcher apply his knowledge

Arnab-Ray-340x340“I’ve always been interested in science, but it’s the application of science that I’m most interested in. I want to put the research that I do to practical use. Although there’s a lot we don’t understand about our bodies, it’s pretty incredible how much we do understand despite how complex our bodies are,” explained Arnab Ray, a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt).

Arnab, who is majoring in molecular biology and minoring in chemistry, chose Pitt because of its research focus. He is especially interested in the university’s translational and clinical research opportunities. He is currently working on pulmonary arterial hypertension research which will hopefully progress to trials with mice and then humans.

This year, Arnab is taking an honors biology course. Explaining how the course differs from his high school science classes, Arnab said, “One of the biggest differences is that our teacher gives us primary literature. Learning the terminology and being able to understand that sort of language is definitely something that’s different.”

Another difference is that Arnab’s biology teacher assigns homework questions in MasteringBiology, an online program that promotes interactive learning. This was Arnab’s first experience using an online program, but he found it very intuitive and useful. “The questions that I find quite helpful are the ones that have the animations on the side. You click on the animation and you get a window that pops up that includes the information you need to help answer the question.”

“The activity questions are also useful, especially when we cover things like genetics or different patterns of inheritance. For example, I really like the practice problems in which you have to identify the correct phenotypes of organisms.”

The animations and activity questions in MasteringBiology are very helpful for making sure I know how to apply the knowledge I’ve learned.

On rare occasions, Arnab has had to use the program’s “help me solve this” function. “I like how it doesn’t give you the answer right away,” he noted. “Even when you go to the last hint, it doesn’t just give you the answer. You still have to answer a question that will lead you to the correct answer.”

Arnab’s biology course has deepened his knowledge of the subject, and the interactive learning has made it more enjoyable. He is looking forward to taking more advanced classes and performing additional research. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he plans to apply to medical school.

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