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ERIC Number: EJ1157220
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Sep
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1931-7913
Investigating Novice and Expert Conceptions of Genetically Modified Organisms
Potter, Lisa M.; Bissonnette, Sarah A.; Knight, Jonathan D.; Tanner, Kimberly D.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v16 n3 Article 52 Sep 2017
The aspiration of biology education is to give students tools to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to everyday life. Genetic modification is a real-world biological concept that relies on an in-depth understanding of the molecular behavior of DNA and proteins. This study investigated undergraduate biology students' conceptions of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) when probed with real-world, molecular and cellular, and essentialist cues, and how those conceptions compared across biology expertise. We developed a novel written assessment tool and administered it to 120 non-biology majors, 154 entering biology majors, 120 advanced biology majors (ABM), and nine biology faculty. Results indicated that undergraduate biology majors rarely included molecular and cellular rationales in their initial explanations of GMOs. Despite ABM demonstrating that they have much of the biology knowledge necessary to understand genetic modification, they did not appear to apply this knowledge to explaining GMOs. Further, this study showed that all undergraduate student populations exhibited evidence of essentialist thinking while explaining GMOs, regardless of their level of biology training. Finally, our results suggest an association between scientifically accurate ideas and the application of molecular and cellular rationales, as well as an association between misconceptions and essentialist rationales.
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: DRL0954127