ERIC Number: EJ1029520
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jun
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 68
DNA?RNA: What Do Students Think the Arrow Means?
Wright, L. Kate; Fisk, J. Nick; Newman, Dina L.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v13 n2 p338–348 Jun 2014
The central dogma of molecular biology, a model that has remained intact for decades, describes the transfer of genetic information from DNA to protein though an RNA intermediate. While recent work has illustrated many exceptions to the central dogma, it is still a common model used to describe and study the relationship between genes and protein products. We investigated understanding of central dogma concepts and found that students are not primed to think about information when presented with the canonical figure of the central dogma. We also uncovered conceptual errors in student interpretation of the meaning of the transcription arrow in the central dogma representation; 36% of students (n = 128; all undergraduate levels) described transcription as a chemical conversion of DNA into RNA or suggested that RNA existed before the process of transcription began. Interviews confirm that students with weak conceptual understanding of information flow find inappropriate meaning in the canonical representation of central dogma. Therefore, we suggest that use of this representation during instruction can be counterproductive unless educators are explicit about the underlying meaning.
Descriptors: Molecular Biology, Genetics, Models, Scientific Concepts, Concept Teaching, Concept Mapping, Cooperative Learning, Student Evaluation, Schematic Studies, Thinking Skills, Interviews, Undergraduate Students, Error Patterns, Difficulty Level, Teaching Methods, Assignments, Scientific Literacy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A