Genetiikan opetus suomalaisessa lukiossa: Oppikirjat ja lukiolaisten käsitykset geenien toiminnasta

Research output: ThesisMaster's thesis


Genetics education is under wide pressure for a change as the genetics is a fast-advancing field of science and the societal and cultural reprecussions of genetics are constantly increasing. The traditional teaching based on the Mendel’s pea experiments is widely acknowledged as a poor starting point for understanding genetics, though it’s globally the most common approach. Also in Finland, the Mendelian genetics is both in the textbooks and in the curriculum the most typical way of teaching the gene function and the heredity of traits. This approach has been fundamentally criticized for espousing genetic determinism and an old-fashioned model of gene. According to the critics, the teaching is focused on unrealistic crossing experiments and the gene-to-trait process is practically forgotten. I decided to study the Finnish textbooks and the students’ perception of gene function to see whether this critic is justified.
I studied the students’ perception on gene function as a part of the National Biology Olympiad in January 2013. I formulated four multiple-choice questions which were answered by 632 students from 73 different high schools and performed quantitative analysis on answers. At the same questionnaire I asked which textbooks were used in schools. I analysed all four different textbooks used in the genetics course with content analysis and looked for all the presented gene models. I used the gene model classification by Niklas Gericke and also assessed the internal hybridization of models. Furthermore, I looked for all the definitions of gene, dominance and recessiveness and the way environmental effects on phenotype were presented.
The students had several misconceptions: they didn’t recognize the difference between genotype and phenotype and their understanding of gene function was lacking. The view that genotype and environmental effects have their own separate effects on phenotype but they don’t interact was prominent. The situation was, however, better than expected by the contents of textbooks. Textbooks included several different, mostly hybrid, gene models, but those didn’t include the modern model. The models were never explicitly discussed and different gene definitions were not discussed. The environmental effects on phenotype were rarely discussed. Based on my results, I give suggestions for further development of study materials, curriculum and genetics teaching and also ideas for further research in genetics education.
Original languageFinnish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
MoE publication typeG2 Master's thesis, polytechnic Master's thesis

Note regarding dissertation

Ns. sivugradu - syventävien opintojen tutkielma

Fields of Science

  • 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
  • 516 Educational sciences

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