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SoTL Inst Presentation

The Genetics Assessment Tool 

The Genetics Assessment Tool (GAT) is a new concept assessment tool developed at the University of Colorado by Michelle Smith, Bill Wood and Jennifer Knight.  It is designed for use in undergraduate genetics courses for both majors and non-majors.This instrument has been carefully validated by interviews with over 30 students and 10 experts.  It has also been piloted on 600 genetics students at three institutions.  The tool was written with student supplied answers in a natural language with minimal jargon, and is intended to address the 9 fundamental genetics Learning Goals listed below.

 Genetics Learning Goals


1. Analyze phenotypic data and deduce patterns of inheritance from family histories.

2. Describe the molecular anatomy of genes and genomes.  

3. Describe the mechanisms by which an organism’s genome is passed on to the next generation.  

4. Describe the phenomenon of linkage and how it affects assortment of alleles during meiosis.  

5. Extract information about genes, alleles, and gene functions by analyzing the progeny from genetic crosses.  

6. Describe the processes that can affect the frequency of phenotypes in a population over time.  

7. Compare different types of mutations and describe how each can affect genes and the corresponding mRNAs and proteins.  

8 Apply the results of molecular genetic studies in model organisms to understanding aspects of human genetics and genetic diseases.  

9. Interpret results from molecular analyses to determine the inheritance patterns and identities ofhuman genes that can mutate to cause disease.  


Genetics Assessment Tool (GAT): if you are interested in this 25 question multiple choice tool, please contact me.


Student performance on the GAT




File:C:/DOCUME~1/Jenny/LOCALS~1/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image002.gifStudent misconceptions about genetics

(identified from student answers on the Genetics pre-post Assessment Tool; these are the persistent incorrect answers pre-post for both majors and non-majors)


-Genetic content of cells

oDifferent cells contain different genes

-Pedigree analysis

oMen and women pass mitochondrial genes to the next generation

oX-linked inheritance (especially dominant) is mistaken for autosomal inheritance 


oSister chromatids can have different alleles

oGametes contain multiple alleles of the same gene (or no allele of a gene)


oDo not take into account the absence of a known genetic makeup (ie, 2/3 probability for a person who could potentially be a carrier for an autosomal recessive disease but does not have disease symptoms)


oGenes that are closer together are more likely to recombine.


oA stop codon stops transcription

oOther changes (ie, a frameshift) cannot result in premature stop codon

oA change is only a mutation if it occurs in the coding region of a gene

See attached presentation for the rest of the preliminary findings and plans for the future.
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262.5 kB16:15, 5 Aug 2008jknightActions
Viewing 5 of 5 comments: view all
A fascinating project, Jenny. The progress of understanding throughout the semester raises a question for me. Is the lack of increase in misconception repair due to the need for students to digest and think about the concept. Or is it simply a matter that they are good memorisers for the exam? In the latter case the class activity is primarily to tell them what to study. If they need time to digest the information to correct the misconception, then the learning activity is important, because another format may be less successful if they are unable to work out the concept. It does not surprise me that students do not appear to have learnt anything immediately after the class. I think that this is a matter of the cognitive load and they do need time.
cheers chris
Posted 09:37, 19 Jul 2008
LOVE how explicit your learning goals are. Perhaps look at misconception repair rate a couple of different ways? One: across misconceptions, and two, within a single misconception but among majors and non-majors. I'm concerned that your focus group questions are rather "shotgun" and not driven by your overarching question about the rate of misconception repair.
Posted 09:41, 19 Jul 2008
Giving a quiz at the end of the initial learning activity is a great idea. When do the students get their quiz results? Do students have feedback right after the quiz, or later, and does it matter? Does the rate of repair depend on when the results are returned?
Posted 09:41, 19 Jul 2008
I think it will become very important for you down the road to divide up your non-majors science or science.

It might really help you to prioritize which data you will go after and I would divide your efforts into two categories:
1. Factors/parameter in effect during the time course is administered (including out of class activities they do FOR the course outside class)
2. Factors affecting misconceptions that is not impacted (at least theoretically) by the course

Also perhaps you can look at your data and analyze them by looking for immediate "repair" of misconception and also for "retainmment of repair".

Posted 09:44, 19 Jul 2008
majors and non-majors share persistent misconceptions-- but this does not jive with next statement!
majors and non-majors score similarly till the final when majors pull ahead.
rephrase your question? to following
Do non-majors repair [different] misconceptions in genetics at different rates and is this similar or different than than majors?
1- I am still concerned that you might be spreading yourself too thin.- focus on 2-3 misconceptions rather than all of them. As you already have data to show that in fact majors and non-majors do repair misconceptions at different rates.
2- Bloom your exam questions to show your students are working at a higher cognitive level.

Posted 09:49, 19 Jul 2008
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