National educational organizations have called upon scientists to become involved in K–12 education reform. From sporadic interaction with students to more sustained partnerships with teachers, the engagement of scientists takes many forms. In this case, scientists from the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), the Genetics Society of America (GSA), and the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) have partnered to organize an essay contest for high school students as part of the activities surrounding National DNA Day. We describe a systematic analysis of 500 of 2443 total essays submitted in response to this contest over 2 years. Our analysis reveals the nature of student misconceptions in genetics, the possible sources of these misconceptions, and potential ways to galvanize genetics education.

Innovations in Teaching and Learning Genetics

Edited by Patricia J. Pukkila


  • Communicating editor: P. J. Pukkila

  • Received November 5, 2007.
  • Accepted December 21, 2007.
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