Characterizing Students’ Ideas about the Effects of a Mutation in a Noncoding Region of DNA

TitleCharacterizing Students’ Ideas about the Effects of a Mutation in a Noncoding Region of DNA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsSieke, SA, McIntosh, BB, Steele, MM, Knight, JK
JournalCBE-Life Sciences Education
Date Published06/2019
AbstractUnderstanding student ideas in large-enrollment biology courses can be challenging, because easy-to-administer multiple-choice questions frequently do not fully capture the diversity of student ideas. As part of the Automated Analysis of Constructed Responses (AACR) project, we designed a question prompting students to describe the possible effects of a mutation in a noncoding region of DNA. We characterized answers from 1127 students enrolled in eight different large-enrollment introductory biology courses at three different institutions over five semesters and generated an analytic scoring system containing three categories of correct ideas and five categories of incorrect ideas. We iteratively developed a computer model for scoring student answers and tested the model before and after implementing an instructional activity designed to help a new set of students explore this concept. After completing a targeted activity and re-answering the question, students showed improvement from preassessment, with 64% of students in incorrect and 67% of students in partially incorrect (mixed) categories shifting to correct ideas only. This question, computer-scoring model, and instructional activity can now be reliably used by other instructors to better understand and characterize student ideas on the effects of mutations outside a gene-coding region.
Refereed DesignationRefereed


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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (DUE grants: 1438739, 1323162, 1347740, 0736952 and 1022653). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.