Study: Some students confused by genetics

Apr 15, 2008

A new study suggests widespread ignorance and several misconceptions among U.S. high school students concerning the science of genetics.

The American Society of Human Genetics conducted a systematic analysis of 500 of 2,443 essays submitted by high school students. Those students were asked one of three questions: what they would study if they were a human geneticist, why should everyone know about genetics, or in what ways could knowledge of genetics change health and healthcare practice in the United States?

The essays reflected a significant number of inaccuracies and misconceptions, the researchers said.

The misconception most frequently identified was a belief that single genes are the cause of traits and inherited diseases. In actuality, multiple genetic and/or environmental factors often play a role in the expression of a trait or disease, officials said.

"Our data add to the growing literature that student misconceptions can serve as barriers to enduring understanding," said Kenna Mills Shaw, lead author of the study. "Our next challenge is to identify the pedagogical strategies that are most effective in teaching students basic genetic principles …"

The research is available online in the journal Genetics.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Explore further: Study shows epigenetic changes in children with Crohn's disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Where have all the dodos gone?

Jun 16, 2011

Biology professor Beth Shapiro is one part laboratory scientist and one part Indiana Jones style adventurer, traveling to remote locations to find fossilized bones and eggshells of ancient animals and extract ...

Coelacanth fossil sheds light on fin-to-limb evolution

Aug 01, 2007

A 400 million-year-old fossil of a coelacanth fin, the first finding of its kind, fills a shrinking evolutionary gap between fins and limbs. University of Chicago scientists describe the finding in a paper ...

Recommended for you

Gene therapy protects mice from heart condition

Aug 20, 2014

A new gene therapy developed by researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine has been shown to protect mice from a life-threatening heart condition caused by muscular dystrophy.

Study finds crucial step in DNA repair

Aug 18, 2014

Scientists at Washington State University have identified a crucial step in DNA repair that could lead to targeted gene therapy for hereditary diseases such as "children of the moon" and a common form of ...

User comments : 0