Project

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Genetic determinism, human intuitions, and genetics literacy

English title Genetic determinism, human intuitions, and genetics literacy
Applicant Mueller Andreas
Number 162679
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut Universitaire de la Formation des Enseignants Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Education and learning sciences, subject-specific education
Start/End 01.03.2016 - 30.04.2020
Approved amount 526'465.00
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Keywords (5)

Genetics literacy; Human intuitions; Science education; Science literacy; Conceptual change

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La génétique contemporaine soulève beaucoup de questions socio-scientifiques. Cependant, la recherche sur l’éducation et la compréhension publique de la génétique suggère que le «déterminisme génétique», la conception que les gènes déterminent les traits, est très courante et mène les gens à des conclusions erronées sur les implications de la recherche en génétique pour la société. Ce projet va investiguer s’il y a des associations entre des intuitions profondes, comme la téléologie et l'essentialisme, et le déterminisme génétique.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherché

Un des objectifs de cette recherche est de développer un instrument de recherche pour mesurer de l'association entre les intuitions profondes et les conceptions de la génétique des élèves du secondaire I et II. Une association significative entre elles suggérerait que contester ces intuitions pourrait faciliter la compréhension de la génétique et contribuer ainsi au développement  de la culture génétique. La première étape du projet sera de développer deux questionnaires fiables et valides.  La deuxième étape est l’administration de ces questionnaires à 2,000 élèves pour documenter leurs explications et leurs conceptions. De plus, ces conceptions seront analysées grâce à des entretiens avec des élèves qui représentent la population investiguée.

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

Le projet aura lieu à Bioscope et aux établissements du secondaire I et II à Genève.  La recherche aura une importance scientifique en fournissant une meilleure compréhension de la formation des conceptions scientifiques et sociales en permettant d’améliorer l’enseignement de la génétique. 

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 29.06.2017

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Contemporary research in genetics raises many socio-scientific issues. However, research on education and the public understanding of genetics suggests that "genetic determinism", the idea that single genes determine traits, is very common and drives people to make wrong conclusions about the implications of genetics research for society. This project will investigate if there are associations between deep intuitions, such as teleology and essentialism, and genetic determinism conceptions.
Lay summary

The main goal of this research project is to develop methods for measuring the association between deep intuitions and genetics conceptions of secondary school students. A significant association between them would suggest that challenging these intuitions might facilitate understanding of genetics and thus contribute to genetics literacy. The first stage of the project will be to develop reliable and valid questionnaires. The second step is the administration of these questionnaires to secondary students in order to document their explanations, and through these reveal their conceptions. Furthermore, these conceptions will be analyzed through interviews with students representing the population studied. Finally, an Implicit Association Test for the intuitions in question will be developed and cross-validated with the other data sources.

The project will take place in secondary schools in Geneva, and it is anticipated to provide a better understanding of how students’ conceptions are formed and thus contribute to improving the teaching and learning of genetics. The project will last for three years and is funded by FNS. The research group consists of Andreas Müller, Bruno Strasser, Kostas Kampourakis and Florian Stern, all of whom work at the University of Geneva.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 29.06.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Students’ “teleological misconceptions” in evolution education: why the underlying design stance, not teleology per se, is the problem
Kampourakis Kostas (2020), Students’ “teleological misconceptions” in evolution education: why the underlying design stance, not teleology per se, is the problem, in Evolution: Education and Outreach, 13(1), 1-1.
Development and validation of a questionnaire measuring secondary students’ genetic essentialism and teleology (GET) conceptions
Stern Florian, Kampourakis Kostas, Delaval Marine, Müller Andreas (2020), Development and validation of a questionnaire measuring secondary students’ genetic essentialism and teleology (GET) conceptions, in International Journal of Science Education, 42(2), 218-252.
Undergraduate Biology Students’ Teleological and Essentialist Misconceptions
SternFlorian, KampourakisKostas, HuneaultCatherine, SilveiraPatricia, MüllerAndreas (2018), Undergraduate Biology Students’ Teleological and Essentialist Misconceptions, in Education Sciences, 8(3), 135-161.
Teaching for genetics literacy in the post-genomic era
Stern Florian, Kampourakis Kostas (2017), Teaching for genetics literacy in the post-genomic era, in Studies in Science Education, 53(2), 193-225.

Datasets

GET-Questionnaire_GET-IAT_data

Author Stern, Florian
Publication date 06.08.2020
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.26037/yareta:vsnnu6k3v5hz3mjpefpbpjy6mi
Repository yareta


Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Niklas Gericke, Karlstad University Sweden (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Norman Lederman, Illinois Institute of Technology United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Ross Nehm, Stony Brook University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Marie-Pierre Chevron, Université de Fribourg Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
NARST (National Association for Research in Science Teaching) International Annual Conference, Portland, USA (presented online due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic). Talk given at a conference Measuring students’ teleological and essentialist conceptions in the context of genetics: A comparison of explicit and implicit measures. 14.03.2020 Portland, United States of America Kampourakis Konstantinos; Mueller Andreas; Stern Florian;
11ème Forum de didactique des sciences naturelles et de la géographie Talk given at a conference Secondary students’ teleological and essentialist conceptions in the context of genetics 23.01.2020 Geneva, Switzerland Kampourakis Konstantinos; Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas;
Gesellschaft für Didaktik der Chemie und Physik -Jahrestagung Talk given at a conference Students’ teleological and essentialist conceptions about genetics 09.09.2019 Vienna, Austria Kampourakis Konstantinos; Mueller Andreas; Stern Florian;
ESERA (European Science Education Research Association) Conference Talk given at a conference Upper secondary school students' implicit associations of genetics and teleological conceptions 26.08.2019 Bologna, Italy Mueller Andreas; Kampourakis Konstantinos; Stern Florian;
International Workshop: Future Directions in Genetics Education Talk given at a conference Measuring students’ teleological and essentialist conceptions in the context of genetics 04.07.2019 Rehovot, Israel Mueller Andreas; Stern Florian; Kampourakis Konstantinos;
4th Swiss Doctoral School for Science Education Talk given at a conference Implicit Associations of Genetics & Teleological Concepts. 20.01.2019 Locarno, Switzerland Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas; Kampourakis Konstantinos;
12th ERIDOB (European Researchers in Didactics of biology) conference Talk given at a conference Students’ implicit associations between genetics concepts and essentialist/teleological intuitions 02.07.2018 Zaragoza, Spain Kampourakis Konstantinos; Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas;
Deuxième journée des didactiques disciplinaires - Recherche et formation : l’espace romand en construction Talk given at a conference Conceptions déterministes, téléologiques et essentialistes, dans le contexte de la génétique chez les élèves du secondaire II. Entretiens et questionnaire. 23.03.2018 Bienne, Switzerland Kampourakis Konstantinos; Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas;
NARST (National Association for Research in Science Teaching) International Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Genetic Determinism, Teleology and Essentialism: A Detailed Look at Secondary Students’ Conceptions 10.03.2018 Atlanta, United States of America Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas; Kampourakis Konstantinos;
10ème Forum de didactique des sciences naturelles et de la géographie Talk given at a conference Secondary students’ determinist, teleological and essentialist conceptions about genetics 18.01.2018 Brugg, Switzerland Stern Florian; Kampourakis Konstantinos; Mueller Andreas;
ESERA (European Science Education Research Association) 2017 Conference Talk given at a conference Undergraduate biology students’ teleological and essentialist preconceptions: Are they related? 21.08.2017 Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland Kampourakis Konstantinos; Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas;
ESERA (European Science Education Research Association) Summer School 2017 Talk given at a conference Human Intuitions and Genetic Determinism 29.06.2017 University of South Bohemia České Budějovice, Czech Republic Kampourakis Konstantinos; Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas;
3. Swiss Doctoral School for Science Education SDSSE 2017 Talk given at a conference Genetic determinism and human intuitions 12.06.2017 St Gallen, Switzerland Mueller Andreas; Stern Florian; Kampourakis Konstantinos;
2. Swiss Doctoral School for Science Education Talk given at a conference Human intuitions and genetic determinism 06.07.2016 Weggis, Lucerne, Switzerland Kampourakis Konstantinos; Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas;
Future Directions in Genetics Education workshop Talk given at a conference Genetic determinism, human intuitions, and genetics literacy 02.06.2016 University of Geneva, Switzerland Kampourakis Konstantinos; Stern Florian; Mueller Andreas; Strasser Bruno;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
184355 Green Breath Box: Insights into biogeochemical cycles, environment, and sustainability 01.10.2019 Agora
180350 Development of Personalized Health in Switzerland: Social Sciences Perpectives 01.01.2019 Sinergia

Abstract

Achieving a general scientific literacy is the goal of science education in schools across all industrialized nations. Achieving scientific literacy in the particular fields of genetics and genomics is especially important because these fields raise a growing number of socio-scientific issues. There is widespread agreement that in order to educate future citizens who will be literate about genetics, school instruction needs to accurately present the new genetics knowledge and its associated socio-scientific issues. However, research in genetics education and the public understanding of genetics suggests that “genetic determinism”, the conception that single genes determine single or complex traits, is widespread. The problem with this conception is that, by current standards, it is scientifically inaccurate and socially unhelpful in dealing with socio-scientific issues, often leading people to wrong conclusions about the implications of genetics research for society. That this conception is widespread is often explained by the fact that it is prevalent in textbooks, school teaching, and popular media. However, conceptual development research suggests that such conceptions are often produced or influenced by deep human intuitions, such as design teleology and psychological essentialism. The aim of the proposed study is to investigate the extent of the association between these intuitions and secondary students’ conceptions of genetics. A significant association between them would suggest that challenging these intuitions would facilitate understanding of genetics and so contribute to achieving literacy in genetics. The first stage of the project will be to develop a reliable and valid two-tier test for documenting secondary students’ teleological, essentialist and genetic determinist conceptions, through an analysis of their explanations. Once developed, this questionnaire will be used to document the conceptions of secondary students’ (15-19 years old) participating in activities at a public outreach laboratory of the University of Geneva, the Bioscope. These conceptions will be further analyzed through semi-structured interviews with appropriately selected students. Specifically, we will aim to understand: a) whether students’ conceptions are inaccurate or incommensurate with scientific ones, and b) whether there is any significant correlation between genetic determinist conceptions and essentialist or teleological conceptions. Research has shown that such a correlation exists for students’ conceptions of evolution; it has also been found that there are associations between essentialism and genetics conceptions, as well as between fate and gene concepts. This correlation will also be investigated by using an adapted version of the implicit association test. As no study has so far investigated the possible association between genetic determinist conceptions and teleological or essentialist ones, if such an association is found, it will have important practical implications for how conceptual change in genetics aiming at genetics literacy might be achieved. The results from the correlation analyses of the responses to the two-tier test and of the implicit association tests will be complementary and contribute to an overall view of students’ conceptions and their correlations/associations.
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