An important issue in teaching interdisciplinary biologically inspired design is the external representations we use to foster understanding of biological systems. In this study we explore if functional models of biological systems, and in particular Structure-Behavior- Function (SBF) models, enable humans to better understand complex biological systems. The study compares the use of SBF models in answering questions about biological systems versus the use of textual, tabular and graphical representations. The results indicate that while no one representation is best for answering all types of questions, SBF models enable more accurate answers to questions entailing abstract and complex inferences.
Helms, M., Vattam, S., Goel, A. K., & Yen, J. (2011). Enhanced Understand of Biological Systems Using Structure-Behavior-Function Models. In Proceedings of the 11th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, Athens, GA. pp. 239-243.