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Understanding protein synthesis: a role-play approach in large undergraduate human anatomy and physiology classes

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Description This study investigated the effectiveness of role play in a large undergraduate science class. The targeted population consisted of 298 students enrolled in 2 sections of an undergraduate Human Anatomy and Physiology course taught by the same instructor. The section engaged in the role-play activity served as the study group, whereas the section presented with a traditional lecture served as the control group. A pretest/posttest assessment and a survey were administered to both sections and used in data analysis. In addition, overall test scores and item analysis were examined. The analysis revealed that participants in both groups improved significantly from pretest to posttest, but there were no significant differences between the groups in posttest scores. Neither group showed a significant change from posttest to the exam. However, there was a moderate positive effect on engagement and satisfaction survey questions from being in the study group (based on 255 total surveys returned by both groups). The role-play activity was at least as effective as the lecture in terms of student performance on the above-mentioned assessments. In addition, it proved successful in engaging students in the learning process and increasing their satisfaction.
Type of Resource Journal Article/Issue
Format Web Page - HTML
Diana Sturges, Georgia Southern University
Development Date June 1, 2009
Grade/Age Levels Undergraduate lower division (Grades 13-14)
Undergraduate upper division (Grades 15-16)
Professional (degree program)
Continuing Education
Informal Education
Related Research Paper ADV PHYSIOL EDUC 33:103-110, 2009
Learning Time <=1 hour
Language English
Type of Review Reviewed By Journal Board
Review Date Reviewed at time of publication
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Very interesting study.  I will take this into consideration in my teaching of protein sythesis in the future.  Definitely speaks to the kinesthetic needs of learners!

Jenny Sarna, Farragut Career Academy

I have used similar role play scenarios for DNA replication and they are indeed helpful to students. I will be trying this activity in my class of 48 students.


Even though the study did not show any difference between students who reviewed protein synthesis the "old fashioned way" versus role-playing, I still find this a valuable resource. It forces me to slow down and review this process, which gives all students more time to understand and learn the material.

Hilary Engebretson, Whatcom Community College