Use of Virtual-Reality in Teaching and Learning Molecular Biology



The teaching of Molecular Biology in secondary schools suffers from student disengagement and lack of suitable resources to help students master this novel area of their curriculum. The result is frustration and incomprehension by the students. Visualization is critical for the learning of Molecular Biology. While the traditional classroom uses diagrams, models, and other tools to accommodate visual-spatial learners, these tools are insufficient to represent the cellular and molecular dynamics elucidated by current research and presented in the modern biology classroom. Several works have recommended the use of simulation-based learning environments. This chapter describes the design considerations in formulating an approach to help students “see” DNA, proteins, and cellular structures in three-dimensional space. The experimental study and intervention described leverage on novel computer-based virtual-reality technologies to help students understand the three-dimensional structures and the molecular interactions between them that enable function. Results indicate significant increases in Molecular Biology achievement in male students. Focus group interviews reveal that, prior to this intervention, students relied heavily on memorization, and the visualization exercises helped to clarify understanding while increasing interest and engagement. The results of this study recommend the use of technology in the teaching and learning of Molecular Biology, especially for male students in Singapore.


Virtual-reality Visual learning Visualization Molecular biology 



This project is supported by the National Research Foundation under the FutureSchools@Singapore Initiative.

This work would not have been possible without the support of many friends and colleagues at Hwa Chong Institution. Special thanks were given to Professor YY Cai from NTU, and Mr. Ngo Boon Keong from Zepth Pte Ltd.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hwa Chong InstitutionSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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