Using a "primer unit" in an introductory biology course: "A soft landing"

Gili Marbach-Ad*, Melina Ribke, Jonathan M. Gershoni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to facilitate students' entrance to an introductory cell biology course for biology majors. The most prominent difficulty in this introductory course, is students' poor background-knowledge, such as a lack of understanding of very basic concepts and terms, and the huge differences in students' background knowledge. In order to bring all the students to a common and adequate level of comprehension and familiarity of basic terms, thus giving a fair chance to all attending the introductory cell biology course, the chief instructor decided to build a "primer unit". The unit provided an overview of the subject matter of the course, and it was placed on the course website before the beginning of the course. The findings show that students who consulted the primer unit came to the course better prepared. The primer helped to reduce the gap between students who studied advanced biology in high school and those who did not. Even though the differences between students who went over the primer and those who did not was not sustained after formal learning, students reported that due to the primer they started the course less intimidated and with a better idea about what to expect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Cell biology
  • Higher education
  • Introductory course
  • Primer unit


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