An Assessment to Investigate Student Conceptions of Pedigree Analysis

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2022
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Grimes, Zachary T.
Wasendorf, Chloe
McCombs, Audrey L.
Reid, Joshua W.
James, Olena
Couch, Brock
Armstrong, Patrick I.
Seipelt-Thiemann, Rebecca L.
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© 2022 by National Association of Biology Teachers
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Boury, Nancy
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Plant Pathology, Entomology and Microbiology
The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and the Department of Entomology officially merged as of September 1, 2022. The new department is known as the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology (PPEM). The overall mission of the Department is to benefit society through research, teaching, and extension activities that improve pest management and prevent disease. Collectively, the Department consists of about 100 faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in research, teaching, and extension activities that are central to the mission of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Department possesses state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities in the Advanced Research and Teaching Building and in Science II. In addition, research and extension activities are performed off-campus at the Field Extension Education Laboratory, the Horticulture Station, the Agriculture Engineering/Agronomy Farm, and several Research and Demonstration Farms located around the state. Furthermore, the Department houses the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, the Iowa Soybean Research Center, the Insect Zoo, and BugGuide. Several USDA-ARS scientists are also affiliated with the Department.
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Microbiology
Microbiology allows you to learn about the microorganisms that affect us every day and how they interact with their surroundings. Through the program, you will be equipped with the knowledge to work in areas related to agriculture, the environment and medicine.
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Plant Pathology, Entomology and MicrobiologyMicrobiologyStatistics
Abstract
Genetics plays an increasing role in modern life as evidenced by the development of revolutionary techniques such as CRISPR-based genome editing and the rise of personalized genome services. However, genetics is difficult to learn; known issues include its abstract nature, different scales, and technical language. Pedigree analysis is a convergence of these concepts, requiring use of multiple symbolic scales and understanding the relationships and nature of alleles, genes, and chromosomes. To measure student understanding of these concepts, as well as support biology educational reform toward student-centered instruction, we developed a formative assessment to provide reliable and valid evidence of student understanding, learning, and misconceptions for pedigree analysis. Nine multiple choice items targeted to four learning objectives were developed in an iterative process with faculty and student input. We designed distractor answers to capture common student misconceptions and deployed a novel statistical technique to assess the congruence of distractor language with targeted misconceptions. Psychometric analysis showed the instrument provides valid and reliable data and has utility to measure normalized learning gains. Finally, we employed cross-tabulation and distractor progression to identify several stable misconceptions that can be targeted for instructional intervention.
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This article is published as Grimes, Zachary T., Nancy M. Boury, Chloe Wasendorf, Audrey L. McCombs, Joshua W. Reid, Olena James, Brock Couch, Patrick I. Armstrong, and Rebecca L. Seipelt-Thiemann. "An Assessment to Investigate Student Conceptions of Pedigree Analysis." The American Biology Teacher 84, no. 9 (2022): 535-544. doi:10.1525/abt.2022.84.9.535. Posted with permission.
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