Piecing Complement Together with LEGO Bricks: Impacts on Interest, Confidence, and Learning in the Immunology Classroom

Suzanne S. Bohlson, Joshua J. Baty, Mallary C. Greenlee-Wacker, Heather A. Bruns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Teaching and learning complex molecular cascades can often be challenging. In immunology, students struggle to visualize immunological processes, such as activation of the complement system, which involves three separate cascades leading to multiple effector functions. Offering learning activities that use tangible modeling can help students learn conceptually difficult content by fostering a visual understanding of concepts, as well as instill confidence and interest in the material. In this article, we describe a learning activity using LEGO bricks that demonstrates the activation of the classical, lectin, and alternative complement pathways and formation of the membrane attack complex. In both an introductory and advanced immunology course, we investigated the effect of the activity on student learning and subject confidence. Performance on examination questions about complement demonstrated that the LEGO activity improved learning in a naive student population (students in introductory immunology), but not in a previously informed student population (students in advanced immunology). In addition, self-reported confidence in the content was significantly higher in students who completed the LEGO activity in the advanced course, but not the introductory course, compared with those who did not do the activity. Students in both courses who did the activity had a positive perception of the activity, with a majority of students reporting that they enjoyed the activity and had more interest in the complement system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-496
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


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