Making connections: Can lexical analysis reveal students' thinking about key genetics concepts?

TitleMaking connections: Can lexical analysis reveal students' thinking about key genetics concepts?
Publication TypePoster
AuthorsJones, S, Long T, Kostelnik K, Urban-Lurain M
Year of Publication2011
Name of meetingUniversity Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) Michigan State University
Location of meetingMichigan State University East Lansing, MI
Date(s) of meeting / presentationApril 8, 2011
AbstractThere are fundamental concepts in every field of study that must be grasped in order to move toward deeper understanding. For biology, understanding of the concept of allele is paramount to grasping basic genetics. Here, we evaluated student understanding of alleles by examining student created genetic models. Specifically, we quantified the connections of various terms (e.g., gene, protein) to allele in order to describe student representations about the relationship of allele to other concepts. The data came from an introductory biology course (N=504) where the same conceptual model was given on the midterm and final exams. The connections from allele to the other terms, and vice versa, were examined using a text analysis software program (SPSS Text Analytics for Surveys), which categorized the student responses. After categorization, we analyzed the frequency of student responses placed in each category to see if students made more or less connections to and from allele on the final. Preliminary analysis shows similar numbers of responses (e.g., midterm=140, final=159) on each exam for the same categories. Additionally, concept webs which illustrate interconnections between the various categories show that the number of connections between categories was also very similar when comparing data from the midterm and final. Future work will examine correlations between correctness and placement of answer in a particular category. Our results imply that examining the connections made from allele to other terms, without also examining correctness, may not be sufficient to evaluate student understanding of the concept of allele.
KeywordsAACR, AACR-pub, genetics, Lexical analysis
Secondary TitleUniversity Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF)
Place PublishedMichigan State University
Date Published04/2011
Citation Key2997
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