UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


Date of this Version

Spring 5-6-2016

Document Type



Akkoseoglu, S. F., Dauer, J. T, & Bergan-Roller, H. E, (2016, April). Establishing Students’ Abilities to Reason with Relationships in the Context of Cellular Respiration. Poster presented at the annual University of Nebraska-Lincoln Spring Research Fair, Lincoln, NE.


Copyright © 2016 Sinan Akkoseoglu, Heather Bergan-Roller & Joe Dauer


This study aims to establish the level at which University of Nebraska-Lincoln students reason with simple relationships in the context of cellular respiration at the levels of glycolysis, Krebs cycle, and electron transport chain. These processes are component processes of cellular respiration and each has multiple inputs and outputs. 633 student consented for this study, from which 18 student models were randomly selected, processed, and analyzed. Classroom observations were used to determine structures and relationships that were inputs and outputs to the three processes. In their models, students did not include different numbers of input or outputs when describing glycolysis, Krebs cycle and the electron transport On average, students had about one input and more than one output per process. The correctness was high for all three processes, however, relationships associated with Krebs cycle were significantly lower than relationships associated with ETC. Relationships associated with glycolysis were intermediate in quality. It was concluded that student's still have a limited understanding of all processes, despite high correctness, because only one input and output for each process was included when three to four should be expected. Students must develop their system thinking skills to comprehend the smaller components at a high level, before they can consider the entire system. Current research suggests that computational modeling is one approach the University can implement as an activity to develop students' system thinking skills.