By Amy Wang, V Form
Constructing a Flowchart in Biology
Editor’s Note: The following description of the assignment provided by Ms. Kimberly Berndt, STEM Faculty–
It can be challenging to understand the complex physiological mechanisms and pathways we explore in Biology. One effective strategy to synthesize, organize, and review information is through visual thinking. We employ visual thinking in a number of ways. In this assignment, students were charged with constructing a flowchart to illustrate their current understanding of how carbohydrates are metabolized.
An effective flowchart takes a complex process and simplifies it in a manner that makes the information more accessible. Flowcharts can be found in many Biology textbooks for this reason. However, the process of constructing a flowchart can be an even more effective tool for learning. Constructing a flowchart requires multiple intellectual tasks.
First, the scholar must review and make meaning of information. Sometimes, as with this assignment, multiple resources with information need to be synthesized. The scholar then needs to systematically organize information in a way that is both accurate and clear. This organization typically involves multiple versions and requires the scholar to think flexibly and embrace revisions. The scholar also needs to edit the narrative so that it, too, is accurate and clear. This editing provides an opportunity to review terminology and check for understanding. As a result, the process of developing a flowchart helps the scholar synthesize, organize information into clear mental constructs, and review terminology–all of which help develop stronger long term memories of the content being explored. The best flowcharts appear simple and are easy to follow. However, the process of producing a quality flowchart is neither simple nor easy; it is the result of a lot of cognitive work.
Amy Wang is a V Form boarding student from Shanghai, China. She enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling.