The Status of Genetics Curriculum in Higher Education in the United States: Goals and Assessment
- 957 Downloads
We review the state of genetics instruction in the United States through the lens of backward design, with particular attention to the goals and assessments that inform curricular practice. An analysis of syllabi and leading textbooks indicates that genetics instruction focuses most strongly on foundations of DNA and Mendelian genetics. At the same time, a survey of faculty indicates that other concepts, such as the application of genetics to society or the environment, are viewed as equally or even more important than foundation concepts. This disconnect suggests a need for more explicit goal setting prior to curriculum development. We also review the relationship between concept inventories, multiple-choice tests measuring conceptual understanding, and curricular goals. Existing concept inventories offer a strong foundation on which to build community-developed concept assessments of genetics knowledge. Concept assessments such as these would allow the genetics education community to test hypotheses of curricular change.
KeywordsGenetic Faculty Item Response Theory Faculty Perception Concept Inventory Transmission Genetic
The authors would like to acknowledge the thoughtful comments provided by two anonymous reviewers whose helpful suggestions contributed to the betterment of this manuscript.
- AAAS. (2011). Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: A call to action. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.Google Scholar
- Andrews, L. B., Fullarton, J. E., Holtzman, N. A., & Motulsky, A. G. (1994). Assessing genetic risks: Implications for health and social policy. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Brooker, R. (2011a). Concepts of Genetics (1st ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math.Google Scholar
- Brooker, R. (2011b). Genetics: Analysis and Principles (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math.Google Scholar
- Caldicott, H. (2011). Unsafe at any dose. The New York Times, April 30, 2011. Accessed November 3, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/opinion/01caldicott.html.
- Darlington, C. D., & Mather, K. (1949). The elements of genetics. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Elrod, S. L. (2007). Genetics concept inventory. Accessed November 3, 2011. http://bioliteracy.colorado.edu/Readings/papersSubmittedPDF/Elrod.pdf.
- Favia, A., Comins, N. A., & Thorpe, G. L. (2012). The elements of item response theory and its framework in analyzing introductory astronomy college student misconceptions. I. Galaxies. arXiv:1206.2302v2.Google Scholar
- Fisher, K. L., & Williams, K. S. (2011). Concept inventories and conceptual assessments in biology (CABs): An annotated list. Accessed May 26, 2011. http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/CRMSE/files/Concept_Inventories_in_Biology_20110325.pdf.
- Friedman, J., Blitzer, M., Davidson, R., Elsas, L., Fine, B. A., Grant, J., et al. (1995). ASHG Report. Report from the ASHG Information and Education Committee: Medical school core curriculum in genetics. ASHG Information and Education Committee. American Journal of Human Genetics, 56, 535–537.Google Scholar
- Griffiths, A. J. F., Gelbart, W. M., Lewontin, R. C., & Miller, J. H. (2002). Modern genetic analysis (2nd ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman.Google Scholar
- Griffiths, A. J. F., Wessler, S. R., Carroll, S. B., & Doebley, J. (2010). Introduction to genetic analysis (10th ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman.Google Scholar
- Harmon, A. (2008). Sequencing your genome—DNA—Genetics—Gene map becomes a luxury item. The New York Times, March 4, 2008. Accessed July 30, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/health/research/04geno.html.
- Hartl, D. L. (2011). Essential genetics: A genomics perspective (5th ed.). Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.Google Scholar
- Hartwell, L., Hood, L., Goldberg, M., Reynolds, A., & Silver, L. (2010). Genetics: From genes to genomes (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math.Google Scholar
- Klug, W. S., Cummings, M. R., Spencer, C. A., & Palladino, M. A. (2009). Essentials of genetics (7th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.Google Scholar
- Klug, W. S., Cummings, M. R., Spencer, C. A., & Palladino, M. A. (2011). Concepts of genetics (10th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.Google Scholar
- Klymkowsky, M. W., Underwood, S. M., & Garvin-Doxas, R. K. (2010). Biological concepts instrument (BCI): A diagnostic tool for revealing student thinking. arXiv:1012.4501v1.Google Scholar
- Kubinger, K. D., & Gottschall, C. H. (2007). Item difficulty of multiple choice tests dependant on different item response formats- an experiment in fundamental research on psychological assessment. Psychology Science, 49, 361–374.Google Scholar
- Libarkin, J. (2008). Concept inventories in higher education science. Paper presented at the National Research Council’s Workshop on Linking Evidence to Promising Practices in Undergraduate STEM Education, Washington, DC, October 13–14.Google Scholar
- Libarkin, J., & Anderson, S. (2006). The geoscience concept inventory: Application of Rasch analysis to concept inventory development in higher education. In X. Lui & W. Boone (Eds.), Applications of rasch measurement in science education (pp. 45–73). Maple Grove, MN: JAM Publishers.Google Scholar
- Lord, F. M. (1980). Applications of item response theory to practical testing problems. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics. (2004). Core principles in genetics. Accessed July 30, 2012. http://www.nchpeg.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=95&Itemid=105.
- National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards: Observe, interact, change, learn. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- O’Sullivan, C., Lauko, M., Grigg, W., Qian, J., & Zhang, J. (2003). The nation’s report card: Science 2000. Accessed July 30, 2012. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?Pubid=2003453.
- Pierce, B. A. (2011). Genetics: A conceptual approach. 4th ed. WH Freeman.Google Scholar
- Reed-Rhoads, T., & Imbrie, P. K. (2008). Concept inventories in engineering education. Paper presented at the National Research Council’s Workshop on Linking Evidence to Promising Practices in STEM Undergraduate Education. Washington, DC, October 13–14. http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bose/PP_Commissioned_Papers.html.
- Ronald, P. C., & McWilliams, J. E. (2010). Genetically engineered distortions. The New York Times, May 14, 2010. Accessed July 30, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/15/opinion/15ronald.html.
- Smith, A. C., & Marbach-Ad, G. (2010). Learning outcomes with linked assessments—an essential part of our regular teaching practice. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 11, 123–129.Google Scholar
- Snustad, D. P., & Simmons, M. J. (2011). Principles of genetics (6th ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Steele, M. W., & Barnhill, B. M. (1982). Lack of impact of undergraduate genetic courses on the teaching of medical genetics. American Journal of Human Genetics, 34, 501–506.Google Scholar
- Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2001). Understanding by design. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar