Elsevier · Kramer, I: Signal Transduction, 3rd Edition · How to use the Book

How to use the Book

“Many students have a (mental) model for stories (narratives), but not textbook writing (expository prose)”. From: Jennifer Cromley. 2000. Learning to think, learning to learn: what the science of thinking and learning has to offer adult education. National Institute for Literacy.

The 3rd edition was written with students and instructors in mind. I can only hope that my particular insight into education (acquired through the act of teaching, analyzing student questionnaires and pedagogical research) meets with agreement from instructors and students alike as that would make this book particularly useful. What will suit us best, students and instructors, is a narrative fashion; embedding pathways in physiological settings. It makes lectures worth their while and, importantly, provides numerous points of entry for a constructive learning approach, including active learning projects (click on links for more information). Thus, each chapter, with one exception, deals with specific signaling pathways placed in one or two precise contexts (themes) such as muscle contraction, cell migration, cell fate determination, immunity, sensory organs, and others. These contexts (enriched with anatomy, cell biology, histology, physiology or pathology) offer students and instructors the opportunity to tell a story, rather than a list of events to quote. Naturally, the signaling events highlighted are not exclusive to these contexts; do please make that clear to students. Also, instructors may choose other contexts for these signaling events, a subject that is closer to their research or because they have their favorite story to transmit. I emphasize that, in order to learn effectively, students must take the matter into their own hands, actively constructing knowledge, and hopefully the chapters will also inspire instructors to develop learning activities (science-writing projects, article analysis, practical classes, database searches, and others). I have developed two examples of teaching courses that you can consult here.

The book is richly illustrated and where possible I have opted for realistic representations of macromolecular objects. These representations may be the direct product of molecular graphics programs, using structure coordinates from the Protein Data Bank, or they may be artists’ impressions of experimentally determined structures and include anatomically accurate simplifications. For pedagogical arguments I refer to a scientific publication in the Journal of Life Sciences Education (Kramer I.M., Dahmani H-R., Delouche P., Bidabe M., Schneeberger P. 2012. Education Catching Up with Science: Preparing Students for Three-Dimensional Literacy in Cell Biology. CBE-Life Sci Educ. 11;437-447). I have also opted for the use of gene names as defined by the HUGO gene nomenclature committee. This is conflicting for some proteins, in the sense that certain symbols are totally different from current common protein names, but the important advantage is that the symbols are (more or less) unambiguous, thus allowing instructors and students to explore proteins further in annotated databases. Among other databases, UniProt and PDB should play an essential role in the process of student “maturation” in life sciences education.

Finally, I wish to emphasize that instructors should not try to be comprehensive, bringing to the fore as many pathways as possible for the sake of completion. What students make of nicely and logically presented lists of pathways is often a different story than what we have in mind. Allow students time for exploring a limited set of events in their own different ways and from different viewpoints, including the above mentioned annotated databases. There is simply too much to grasp in signal transduction, as in all scientific disciplines. Even as an expert in the field one has to cope with what professor Winkler, back in 1978, named “the explosion of ignorance” (Farewell address of professor Klaas C Winkler, retiring from his chair in Medical Microbiology in 1978 at the University of Utrecht, “de explosie van onkunde of de strijd om het verstaan”, Utrecht University Library, BAB 6682).

This companion site is designed to aid you in the following ways:

  1. Search the subject database for relevant chapters
  2. You can develop your teaching course by choosing the pathways you wish to develop or by choosing a context and see which pathways come out best. In the subject database accompanying the instructions on this site, you will find a table that will allow you to easily navigate the book’s content. It will direct you to the appropriate chapters for furthering your course objective. For those without the book to immediately refer to, when you seek to purchase individual chapters, it will help you to make the right choice.

  3. Search the image bank for relevant illustrations
  4. We have provided an accompanying site with an image bank, providing a full catalogue of images from the Signal Transduction, 3rd Edition book. You can explore the bank for relevant illustrations that may accompany your teaching course. Many of these are freely available.

I do hope these will prove useful to constructing your course.