Genetics literacy; Human intuitions; Science education; Science literacy; Conceptual change
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.
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.
SternFlorian, KampourakisKostas, HuneaultCatherine, SilveiraPatricia, MüllerAndreas (2018), Undergraduate Biology Students’ Teleological and Essentialist Misconceptions, in Education Sciences
, 8(3), 135-161.
Stern Florian, Kampourakis Kostas (2017), Teaching for genetics literacy in the post-genomic era, in Studies in Science Education
, 53(2), 193-225.
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.