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Illustrative design pattern based on genetics learning progression for grades 5-10 | Design Pattern 2233 [ | ]
Illustrative design pattern based on genetics learning progression for grades 5-10
This design pattern describes students' evolving knowledge of the characteristics and functions of genes. Its contents are based on a published journal article by Duncan, Rogat, & Yarden (2009) in which the authors posit a learning progression for deepening students' understandings of modern genetics across grades 5-10. This understanding of modern genetics is identified in the paper as consisting of understanding of the genetic model, the molecular model, and the meiotic model. The paper posits 8 main ideas about the three models followed by the characteristics of what students in grade bands 5-6, 7-8, and 9-10 are capable of understanding about the main ideas respectively.

All fields associated with the Duncan, Rogat, & Yarden article contain direct quotes from the article. Each quote is referenced by the number of the page on which it appears.
Use glossary
Use this design pattern to build assessment arguments devoted to measuring the progression of student understanding about genetics in grades 5-10.
Focal knowledge, skills, and abilities glossary
1.  Understanding genes as "informational entities" (Duncan, Rogat, & Yarden, p. 665), present "in most cells in the organism" (Ibid., p. 664), that genes contain instructions for the growth and functioning of all living things, and that "Our body has multiple levels of organization, hence changes at one level may affect another" (p. 660). (Grades 5-6)
2.  Understanding that the genetic content specifies "very small biological entities" (proteins) "that carry out the functions in living things" (Ibid., p. 665), that proteins have "shapes and properties that afford their functions" (Ibid, p. 660), that changes to proteins can result from changes to genes and that those changes can "affect...structures and functions in the whole organism" (p. 660). (Grades 7-8)   details
3.  Understanding the "molecular processes involved in the translation of the genetic instructions into proteins" (Ibid., p. 666), understanding some of the" molecular structures of proteins (such as charge and size)" (Ibid., p. 666), and developing more sophisticated understandings of "genetic mutations...and their biological consequences at the molecular and cellular levels" (p. 666) (Grades 9-10).   details
Additional knowledge, skills, and abilities glossary
Knowledge of different species of organisms that may be cited in the student tasks. (All bands)
Knowledge of parts and functions of different organisms (Grades 5-6)
Knowledge of different types of physiological functions that are genetically derived (Grades 7-8)
Foundational knowledge about the structures and functions of molecules (Grades 9-10)
Potential observations glossary
Accuracy of information explicitly or implicitly provided in the student response about how the alteration of a cell's structure or function can affect the structure or function of the organ or organism it resides in (Grades 5-6)
Accuracy of information explicitly or implicitly provided in the student response about how a change in a proteins' shape might affect the protein function, as well as the structure and function of a cell it resides in, and that of the whole organism (Grades 7-8)
Accuracy of information explicitly or implicitly provided in the student response about how a genetic mutation might influence the function or appearance of an organism by affecting the function or structure of a protein that acts within a cell, which resides in a tissue, and which functions in an organ. (Grades 9-10)
Potential work products glossary
A list of inherited traits of different types of plants and animals (Grades 5-6)
A narrative that differentiates between traits that result from alterations to cell structures and functions and those that result from mutations induced by infections or other environmental influences (Grades 5-6)
A narrative describing examples of specific cellular changes that affect a body part or entire organism (Grades 7-8)
Causal diagram of a model showing directionally appropriate cause and effect relationships between a particular type of genetic mutation and corresponding changes to cells and to the whole organism (Grades 7-8)
Before and after sketches showing different types of change in different types of proteins and the impacts on of the changes on cell structures (Grades 7-8)
Short narrative identifying a particular type of genetic mutation (Grades 9-10)
Describing a plan to research at the molecular level the evolutionary relationships between two specific organisms (Grades 9-10)
Report comparing and contrasting how doctors diagnose infectious diseases differently from genetically-inherited diseases in a way that reveals student understanding of the impacts of genetic mutations on cell structures (Grades 9-10)
Potential rubrics glossary
Characteristic features glossary
Tasks prompt students to apply principles of cellular and/or molecular biology at grade-level appropriate levels of sophistication in order to give reasonable explanations or make reasonable predictions about the characteristics of genes, proteins, and the outcomes of genetic changes on cells and organisms. In other words, a task meant to determine whether a student is thinking at or above a specified level should present a situation to understand or explain such that the concepts described in the Focal KSAs for the level are required. (All bands)   details
Variable features glossary
Which types of organisms to focus on (Grades 5-10)
Which types of cell structures to focus on (Grades 5-10)
Whether to focus on normally varying traits such as eye color or different types of healthy vs. pathological genetic expressions (Grades 5-10)
Which types of information representations to use, such as text, diagrams, tables (Grades 5-10)
Which types of genetic mutations to focus on (Grades 5-10)
Which types of proteins to focus on (Grades 7-10)
Which types of tissues or organs to focus on. (Grades 9-10)
Narrative structure glossary
National educational standards glossary
State standards glossary
State benchmarks glossary
I am a kind of glossary
These are kinds of me glossary
These are parts of me glossary
Templates glossary
Exemplar tasks glossary
Muscular dystrophy task (Duncan, Rogat, and Yarden, 2009). Task description: Some people are born with a genetic disease called muscular dystrophy. People with this disease have great difficulty in walking or exercising. Can you explain what might be causing these problems? Expected responses: Grades 5-6: Maybe these people have muscle cells that do not work well or maybe they have fewer muscle cells. Grades 7-8: Maybe their muscle cells do not move well because the proteins in these cells do not work well. Grades 9-10: Maybe their muscle cells do not move well because the proteins in these cells do not work as a result of a mutation in a gene.
Hemoglobin task (Duncan, Rogat, and Yarden, 2009). Task description: There is a protein called hemoglobin found in red blood cells that binds oxygen. It is possible that gene mutations could arise that prevents hemoglobin from binding oxygen. Explain how a mutation could cause this problem. Expected responses: Grades 5-6: Not applicable. Grades 7-8: Maybe a protein in the cell is changed so the cell cannot carry oxygen. Grades 9-10: Maybe the hemoglobin protein is changed in shape, because of a mutation in a gene, so that hemoglobin cannot bind oxygen.
Online resources glossary
References glossary
Berenfeld, B., Damelin, D., Pallant, A., Tinker, B., Tinker, R., Xie, Q. (2004). Molecular Workbench. The Concord Consortium. Retrieved February 23, 2010. http:/ /
Duncan, R.G. (2006). Fostering generative understandings about complex phenomena in genetics. In: Barab S.A., Hay K.E., & Hickey D.T. (Eds.). Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference for the Learning Sciences: Making a Difference. Bloomington, Indiana (pp. 119-120). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Duncan, R.G. (2007). The role of domain-specific knowledge in generative reasoning about complicated multilevel phenomena. Cognition and Instruction, 25(4), 271-336.
Duncan, R.G., Rogat, A.D., Yarden, A. (2009) A Learning Progression for Deepening Students' Understandings of Modern Genetics Across the 5th-10th Grades. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(6), 655-674.
Duncan, R.G., & Reiser, B.J. (2007). Reasoning across ontologically distinct levels: Students' understandings of molecular genetics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(7), 938-959.
Duncan, R.G., Ruppert, J., Bausch, A., Freidenreich, H.B. (2008). Promoting middle school students'understanding of molecular genetics. Baltimore, MD: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching.
Krajcik, J., McNeill, K., & Reiser, B.J. (2008). Learning-goals-driven design model: Developing curriculum materials that align with national standards and incorporate project-based pedagogy. Science Education, 92(1), 1-32.
Rogat, A., Krajcik, J.S. (2006). Supporting students understanding of current genetics in high school. San Francisco: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching.
Roseman, J., Caldwell, A., Gogos, A., Kurth, L.A. (2006). Mapping a coherent learning progression for the molecular basis of heredity. San Francisco, CA: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching.
Stewart, J., Cartier, J.L., & Passmore, C.M. (2005). Developing understanding through model-based inquiry. In how students learn: Science in the classroom. (pp. 515-565). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Venville, G., & Donovan, J. (2005). Searching for clarity to teach the complexity of the gene concept. Teaching Science, 51(3), 20-24.
Venville, G., & Treagust, D.F. (1998). Exploring conceptual change in genetics using a multidimensional interpretive framework. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(9), 1031-1055.



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Activity    Add'l KSAs: Affective    Add'l KSAs: Cognitive    Add'l KSAs: Executive    Add'l KSAs: Language and Symbols    Add'l KSAs: Perceptual    Add'l KSAs: Skill and Fluency    Continuous Zone    Design Pattern    Educational Standard    Evaluation Phase    Evaluation Procedure (rubric)    Materials and Presentation    Measurement Model    Narrative Structure    Observable Variable    State Benchmark    State Standards    Student Model    Student Model Variable    Task Exemplar    Task Model Variable    Task Specification    Template    Variable Features: Affective    Variable Features: Cognitive    Variable Features: Executive    Variable Features: Language and Symbols    Variable Features: Perceptual    Variable Features: Skill and Fluency    Work Product   

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