An Effective Instructional Design for Teaching Plant Cell Biology

Teaching and learning biology is one of the difficult subjects. Students find particularly learning the concepts of cell biology such as the cell organelles, their functions etc to be difficult to visualize and understand. The reason is that this topic includes many systems and interactions which are not visible by our naked eyes. Therefore, we believe that a good instructional design is a solution for the student to learn the topic and also helps teachers to deliver knowledge and experience they have about the topic. This design was based on the book titled Designing Effective Instruction by Morisson ,Ross and Kemp (2007).

The time frame for this project will be restricted to two lectures of an hour each. Basic course in plant science (PIBIO114) dedicate only two lectures for cell biology and the material for instruction is not too much of detail. The concept developed in these lectures can be applied to the associated lab session and also other topics related to cell biology.

Students of plant biology have always been having a performance problem in their learning, particularly, to learn the systems and interactions of the science. An informal interview with a Teaching Assistant revealed that the performance of students in PIBIO114 ;changes with the instructors who teach it in different quarters. Some instructors rarely use multi-media and students seek help from the tutoring services to make up. This means that the instructors are not communicating in the language of the present generation of students. “The Goals of science subject is to understand the underlying physical laws that are responsible for observed phenomena. However, in biology due to the complexity of the systems involved and the spatial and temporal nature of many biological processes, to attain this goal has become a challenging process.” (Rule and Bajezek 2005)

The traditional teaching does not give much interaction with the subject materials; this is because of the time and other resource constraints. Research shows that the students who have more interaction with learning material will have better understanding and perform well in their exams and apply well in the real situations (Pagliano, O., Brown, W. E., Rule, G., & Bajzek, D.,. 2007).

Implementation of Phases

Phase One – Project Intent Statement

This phase was the guiding light of this instructional design project. The key elements such as General statement, description of the target audience and the time frame lead this project to completion. The ‘wh’ questions such as Who What and Why, helped us to get the clear guidance for the development of the instructional design for in the freshmen of the Ohio University who are taking the class BIOL 101.

Phase Two- Need Assessment

This phase was the real testing place. The question we asked whether instruction is a solution to the performance problem?”. In this phase we identified the gaps in the performance and understood the different types of needs such as normative need, comparative need etc. The research we conducted reveals that there is performance problem among the students who are taking this course; the literature review is also revealed the same problem. The description of the resources and constraints really revealed the real resources we required and the constraints we have. When this was done in a written format, it helped us to realize the real resources required and the constraints we have to get the resources.

Phase Three – Lesson Sequence and Task/Instructional Analysis

In this phase we learned how to define the content to address the instructional problem we have. In addition we understood the topic and procedural analysis that are required for the effective instructional design. To determine the entry level of instruction we did a leaner and contextual analysis to understand the nature of the student group, student preparation level and the degree of motivation.

Phase Four- Testing Procedure and Rationale

In this phase we provided formal and informal ways the learning could be tested and the time of the test and provided the rationale for the testing. In this testing we have used formative and summative evaluation to check student learning. The background knowledge test, minute paper, muddiest Point and one sentence summary used to evaluate the students apart from that this project used the midterm Lab test and Final exam.

Phase Five – Instructional Activities

Working with this phase provides me a detailed view of the instructional activities, the specifications of teacher role, student roles. The application of Initial presentation strategy and the World related Sequence; the generative strategies were very helpful.

Phase six- Sample Lesson

This sample lesson taught me how to outline a sample lesson, the events of instructions such as the context, content and mode of instruction.

Phase Seven – Media

In this phase, we selected the media that are appropriate for the lesson. we also analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of each media. we have to keep in mind the cognitive load while create the media.

Click here to see Instructional activities, Sample Lesson, Media

Phase Eight- Evaluation

This phase provides the overall evaluation of the project. I used both formative and summative evaluation. The instruments used to measure both the effectiveness and efficiency of the design included both in the designers and instructors point of view.


Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2007). Designing effective instruction (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley.

Pagliano, O., Brown, W. E., Rule, G., & Bajzek, D.,. (2007). Improving animation tutorials by integrating simulation, assessment, and feedback to promote active learning. Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education.,

Rule, G., Bajzek, D. (2005). Authentic learning and assessments: Major components in transforming superficial understanding into knowledge-applications to introductory biochemistry. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2005, Norfolk, VA: AACE. 1497-1502

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