Genetics for Generation Z: Exploring middle school students’ engagement with and understanding of a novel genetics curriculum

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dc.contributor.advisor Garbett, Dawn Laura
dc.contributor.advisor Tsai, Angela
dc.contributor.author Brown, Oliver
dc.date.accessioned 2021-08-18T03:24:58Z
dc.date.available 2021-08-18T03:24:58Z
dc.date.issued 2020 en
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/2292/56067
dc.description Full Text is available to authenticated members of The University of Auckland only. en
dc.description.abstract Genetic literacy, the capacity of the non-scientist citizen to make well-informed decisions and adopt sophisticated views regarding personal and social genetics issues, is a key component of scientific literacy (Boerwinkel et al., 2017). At its core, genetic literacy requires understanding that most human characteristics are the product of a developmental process that involves multiple interacting genetic and environmental factors (Boerwinkel et al., 2017). This understanding helps an individual engage with the results of a genetic test (Pearson & Liu-Thompkins, 2012) but also acts as bulwark against excessive belief in genetic determinism, itself associated with a variety of deleterious social attitudes (Dar-Nimrod & Heine, 2011). Most genetics education at the middle school and high school level focuses on developing students’ grasp of Mendelian genetics with limited attention devoted to multifactorial traits (Lontok et al., 2015; Ministry of Education, 2007). This prompted the researcher to develop a genetics unit, aimed at Year Ten students, that more fully addresses the components of genetic literacy. This thesis, taking an action research approach, seeks to explore the impact of this unit on Year Ten students’ social views regarding genetics-related issues and identify difficulties hampering their development of genetic literacy. Pre- and Post-tests were carried out with 56 students and data was collected from end-of-lesson minute papers and focus groups. Whilst students’ genetic literacy was strengthened following the unit, several learning challenges were identified. Students did not adopt a view of genes as exclusively coding for proteins, had difficulties articulating how genetic and environmental factors interact and utilised a transmission inheritance rather than a developmentalist lens when explaining genetic phenomena. With respect to students’ social views, the data collected showed that students’ degree of belief in genetic determinism prior to the unit was reasonably acceptable and the unit did not significantly shift these views. Of particular note, however, was students’ consistent underappreciation of the contribution of genetics to psychological traits. These findings offer insight into how the unit can be refined to improve the learning gains experienced by students in the future.
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof Masters Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA en
dc.rights Restricted Item. Full Text is available to authenticated members of The University of Auckland only. en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nz/
dc.title Genetics for Generation Z: Exploring middle school students’ engagement with and understanding of a novel genetics curriculum
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.discipline Education
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Masters en
dc.date.updated 2021-06-14T18:16:31Z
dc.rights.holder Copyright: the author en


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