Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Reforming genetics instruction for middle schoolers

Date:
August 5, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Most middle-schoolers struggle to grasp the introductory concepts of genetics, a field of study considered crucial to advancing solutions to health problems and disease such as cancer, according to a new study.

Michelle Williams, assistant professor of education.
Credit: Image courtesy of Michigan State University

Most middle-schoolers struggle to grasp the introductory concepts of genetics, a field of study considered crucial to advancing solutions to health problems and disease such as cancer, according to a study led by a Michigan State University researcher.

Related Articles


In the journal Science Education, Michelle Williams suggests genetics and heredity lessons should be taught with broader context and in a visually stimulating manner via computer technologies.

Williams, assistant professor of education, has landed a $2.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to do just that. With the five-year grant, Williams and a team of fellow researchers will develop web-based genetics curricula for students starting in fifth grade.

"A lot of genetics happens at the microscopic level and it's hard for students to visualize," Williams said. "The goal is to get the students excited about science and keep that excitement going."

In the published study, a group of seventh-grade students completed a web-based unit on genetics and were given assessments. Although improvement was shown, the students still struggled to understand cell function and genetic inheritance.

But state and national academic standards indicate students should comprehend genetic-related concepts as early as elementary school. Understanding the basics of genetics is considered crucial to helping older students grasp the more advanced science topics such as the structure and function of DNA and RNA.

"We need to better understand how students make sense of genetics not only in high school, but also when they are first introduced to this concept," Williams said.

With the grant, Williams and colleagues will create a more advanced genetics unit for students in fifth, seventh and ninth grades in two school districts. Because the instruction is web-based, the students can interact with each another as well as with their instructors. Researchers will monitor trends in learning and make changes to the system as needed.

Williams said it's important that students in early grades not just read about genetics in a textbook, but see the concepts in simulations and animations.

"With this system, a teacher can freeze everyone's computers to highlight an idea, for example, or teachers and students can do instant messaging," Williams said. "They'll have access to evidence-based genetics curriculum in a state-of-the-art environment that promotes learning, and that's what is exciting."

The research team includes experts in assessment, computer science, biology and statistics. Angela DeBarger from SRI International is Williams' co-primary investigator on the grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michelle Williams, Angela Haydel DeBarger, Beronda L. Montgomery, Xuechun Zhou, Erika Tate. Exploring middle school students' conceptions of the relationship between genetic inheritance and cell division. Science Education, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/sce.20465

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Reforming genetics instruction for middle schoolers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110805135348.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, August 5). Reforming genetics instruction for middle schoolers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110805135348.htm
Michigan State University. "Reforming genetics instruction for middle schoolers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110805135348.htm (accessed January 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, January 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

AFP (Jan. 29, 2015) Oxfam International has called for a multi-million dollar post-Ebola "Marshall Plan", with financial support given by wealthy countries, to help Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to recover. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tesla 'Insane Mode' Gives Unsuspecting Passengers the Ride of Their Life

Tesla 'Insane Mode' Gives Unsuspecting Passengers the Ride of Their Life

RightThisMinute (Jan. 29, 2015) If your car has an "Insane Mode" then you know it&apos;s fast. Well, these unsuspecting passengers were in for one insane ride when they hit the button. Tesla cars are awesome. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Now Bill Gates Is 'Concerned' About Artificial Intelligence

Now Bill Gates Is 'Concerned' About Artificial Intelligence

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Bill Gates joins the list of tech moguls scared of super-intelligent machines. He says more people should be concerned, but why? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) The World Health Organization announced the fight against Ebola has entered its second phase as the number of cases per week has steadily dropped. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins