Peer-reviewed Education Resources

Peer-reviewed Education Resources

The Genetics Society of America Peer-Reviewed Education Portal (GSA PREP) is a collection of laboratory exercises and in-class exercises that are based on evidence-based teaching methods. Each of these resources was peer-reviewed and fits into the Genetics Learning Framework created by GSA’s Education Committee. Though it is no longer accepting new submissions, you can still use GSA PREP to search for material that will make your genetics course effective and engaging.

We also encourage you to search for peer-reviewed teaching materials via our partners the Life Science Teaching Resource Community (LifeSciTRC) and CourseSource. LifeSciTRC is an online community and library of more than 8,500 peer-reviewed teaching resources from nine life science professional societies, including GSA. CourseSource is an open-access journal of peer-reviewed teaching resources for undergraduate biological sciences. The CourseSource Genetics Course was developed in conjunction with the Genetics Learning Framework developed by GSA’s Education Committee.

If you are looking to share your new education materials, CourseSource also provides a high-quality publishing platform. Anything you would have shared via GSA PREP in the past, we now encourage you to submit to CourseSource.

GSA PREP Resources

 

Laboratory Exercises

The Ames Test

This published laboratory introduces students to the Ames test, an assay used to determine the mutagenic properties of chemical compounds, using a distinctly quantitative approach.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Genetic variation

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to devise a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Open-ended laboratory

Activity Length: 2 weeks (Week 1: 3 hrs; Week 2: 2 hrs)



Behavioral Genetics: Investigating the genes of a complex phenotype in fruit flies

This laboratory exercise uses both inquiry-based and active-learning approaches to uncover the genetic architecture of behavior in the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Genetic variation; Transmission/Patterns of Inheritance; Gene Expression and Regulation; Methods and Tool in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data; Students should be able to effectively explain genetics concepts to different audiences; Students should be able to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science.

Audience: Introductory to intermediate undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Inquiry-based laboratory

Activity Length: 2-3 hours



The Case of the Missing Strawberries: RFLP analysis

While solving the fictional mystery of the missing strawberries, students are engaged in a guided-inquiry lesson featuring small-group and class discussions, hands-on activities, and laboratory exercises related to molecular genotyping by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Methods and Tool in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Laboratory and in-class activity

Activity Length: 4 hours



Exploration of the Human Genome by Investigation of Personalized SNPs

To increase students’ interest in their own genomes, this computer-based laboratory lesson provides students with the opportunity be genotyped by the consumer sequencing company, 23andMe. This lesson employs multiple open-access websites through which students explore a health-related single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in which they are most interested.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Genetic variation; Genetics of model organisms

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to devise a question; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Laboratory activity

Activity Length: 3 hours



Exploring Genetic Variation in a Caffeine Metabolism Gene

This laboratory illustrates the core concept of genetic variation by having students analyze a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) from their own DNA, and can be scaled up or down to meet the needs of majors and nonmajors alike.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Genetic variation

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to devise a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate (introductory undergraduate option); biology/genetics majors (nonmajor option)

Activity Type: Inquiry-Based laboratory

Activity Length: 2-4 weeks (2-4 hours per week)



Fetching SNPs: A Dog Genotyping Laboratory for Undergraduate Biology

This multi-week lab project is designed to increase comprehension of the core concept of genetic variation, and give undergraduate students experience with genotyping DNA isolated from dogs.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Transmission/Patterns of inheritance; Genetic variation; Evolution; Genetics and society

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to effectively explain genetics concepts to different audiences; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate (advanced undergraduate option); biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Open-ended laboratory

Activity Length: 3-4 weeks (3 hrs per week)



Finding Selection in All the Right Places

This inquiry-based laboratory introduces students to evolutionary genetics using bioinformatics and biocuration.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Genetic variation; Evolution

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to devise a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model; Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data.

Audience: Introductory to intermediate undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Open-ended laboratory

Activity Length: 2.5 hrs



Genetics Research Project Laboratory: A Discovery-Based Undergraduate Research Course

This resource is an example of a discovery-based undergraduate research course in genetics, using the course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) model.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Transmission/Patterns of Inheritance; Molecular Biology of Gene Function; Gene Expression and Regulation; Genetics of Model Organisms

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to locate, read, and comprehend primary literature research papers on genetics topics; Students should be able to implement observational strategies to devise a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses;

Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations; Students should be able to effectively explain genetics concepts to different audiences.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Discovery-based laboratory

Activity Length: Full semester



Revised College Genetics Laboratory Exercise for Witnessing Phenotypic and Molecular Evolution in the Fruit Fly

An update to a published lab that allows students to observe both phenotypic and molecular evolition through natural selection; the revised version makes the exercise more accessible to a broader audience of novice fruit fly handlers.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Transmission/Patterns of Inheritance; Evolution

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to devise a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Open-ended laboratory

Activity Length: 4-6 days spread across 2-3 months



Two complementary methods for genotyping taste receptor TAS2R38 in humans

This multi-session laboratory exercise is designed to expand the concept of genetic variation, expose students to multiple molecular techniques, and underscore the importance of experimental validation in the scientific method.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Transmission/Patterns of Inheritance; Evolution and Population Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Open-ended laboratory

Activity Length: Three 3-hour labs



Using Fijiwings to Understand the Genetic Control of Cell Growth and Proliferation: A Computer-Based Laboratory Exercise

This lab conveys the core concepts of gene expression and regulation, and in particular how genes control development using a computer-based program to measure the effect of manipulating cell signaling on tissue and cell size.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Gene expression and regulation; Genetic variation; Genetics of model organisms

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental rules; Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model; Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate (beginning undegraduate option); biology/genetics majors (non-majors option)

Activity Type: Inquiry-based laboratory exercise

Activity Length: 3 modules spread across 5 lab periods



Using Synthetic Biology and pClone Red for Authentic Research on Promoter Function: Genetics (analyzing mutant promoters)

This laboratory lesson allows students to conduct original research by characterizing functional regions within known prokaryotic promoters. Students begin the lesson by learning the properties of transcriptional promoter DNA sequences, design mutations for a constitutive promoter, and discuss their designs as a class to choose which mutations to clone and characterize.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Molecular Biology of Gene Function; Genetic variation; Genetics of model organisms; Methods and Tools in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations.

Audience:Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Laboratory exercise

Activity Length: 4 weeks in lab (2-3 hours each week), with options to extend the lesson



Using Synthetic Biology and pClone Red for Authentic Research on Promoter Function: Introductory Biology (identifying new promoters)

This laboratory lesson allows students to conduct original research by identifying and characterizing promoters found in prokaryotes. Students start with primary literature, design and clone a short promoter, and test how well their promoter works.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Molecular Biology of Gene Function; Genetic variation; Genetics of model organisms; Methods and Tools in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations.

Audience:Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Laboratory exercise

Activity Length: 4 weeks in lab (2-3 hours each week), with options to extend the lesson



What can we learn from worms? How the nematode C. elegans maintains balance in a changing environment

This 5-lesson curriculum module helps students build an understanding of how genes and environment interact to determine traits, by learning how the nematode C. elegans maintains homeostasis in an unfavorable environment caused by high osmotic stress.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Molecular Biology of Gene Function; Gene Expression and Regulation; Genetic Variation; Genetics of Model Organisms; Methods and Tools in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations.

Audience: High school biology; Introductory undergraduate

Activity Type: Laboratory exercise

Activity Length: 7 class periods of 50-90 minutes each



You and Your Oral Microflora: Introducing non-biology majors to their “forgotten organ”

This laboratory module is designed to introduce non-science majors to their “forgotten organ”, the human microbiome, through a series of activities where students sample and analyze a subset of their oral microflora.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Molecular Biology of Gene Function; Methods and Tools in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: Introductory undergraduate; non-science majors

Activity Type: Laboratory exercise

Activity Length: 7 weeks (10-45 minutes of active lab time each week); can be modified to fit a number of different formats


Laboratory Protocols

Recombination Calculations by Branch Diagrams

This is a method for analyzing recombination events in laboratories focused on genetic recombination. The branch diagram method provides visual cues for which classes are recombinant, as well as a structural guide to assist students with the mathematical analysis of recombination data.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Transmission/patterns of inheritance

Core Competencies Addressed:Students should be able to implement observational strategies to devise a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model.

Audience: Intermediate undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Laboratory protocol

Activity Length: N/A


In-Class/Lecture Exercises

A Kinesthetic Modeling Activity to Teach PCR Fundamentals

Most molecular biology and biological sciences students understand that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to amplify DNA. However, some students experience conceptual misunderstandings, a lack of detailed comprehension of the PCR process, or difficulties with troubleshooting and predicting the effects of alterations to the standard PCR process. This activity allows students to kinesthetically generate a visual layout of the first three cycles of PCR and focus on fundamental processes that occur during initial phases of the amplification reaction.

Genetics Categories Addressed:Methods and Tools in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed:Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data.

Audience:Intermediate to advanced undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type:In-class/Lecture Exercise

Activity Length: 50-70 minutes



Active Learning Workshops for Teaching Key Topics in Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology: Structure of DNA/RNA, Structure of Proteins, and Cell Division via Mitosis and Meiosis

This resource consists of workshop materials that facilitate an active learning approach to teaching three core topics typically covered in introductory cell and molecular biology courses: DNA/RNA structure, protein structure, and cell division via both mitosis and meiosis.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Transmission/patterns of inheritance

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to: implement observational strategies to formulate a question; generate testable hypotheses; design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; effectively explain genetics concepts to different audiences

Audience: Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type:In-class/Lecture Exercise

Activity Length: 1-1.5 50-minute class periods per workshop



Basic Probability and Chi-Squared Tests

An inquiry-based, in-class exercise designed to give students practice working with critical skills for classic genetic analysis, including: understanding probability; combining probabilities to make predictions about outcomes; and evaluating the fit of observed data to predictions based on a null model.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Transmission/patterns of inheritance

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model.

Audience: Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: In-class exercise

Activity Length: 50 minutes



Building a Model of Tumorigenesis: A small group activity for a cancer biology/cell biology course

In this small group activity, students are presented with background information about the multistep nature of tumorigenesis and complete a priming activity that allows them to brainstorm and discuss experimental design.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Genetic variation

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model.

Audience: Upper level undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Lecture/Small group activity

Activity Length: 75 minutes



The Case of the Missing Strawberries: RFLP analysis

While solving the fictional mystery of the missing strawberries, students are engaged in a guided-inquiry lesson featuring small-group and class discussions, hands-on activities, and laboratory exercises related to molecular genotyping by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Methods and Tool in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Laboratory and in-class activity

Activity Length: 4 hours



Cystic Fibrosis: Exploration of evolutionary explanations for the high frequency of a common disorder

A guided classroom exercise in which students derive and evaluate hypotheses to explain the relatively high incidence of cystic fibrosis (and the alleles responsible) in European and European-derived human populations.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Genetic variation; Evolution

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data.

Audience: Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: In-class exercise

Activity Length: 2 hours



Demonstrating Meiosis Using Manipulatable Chromosomes and Cells

This resource is an in-class, hands-on, manipulative modeling exercise designed to allow students to visualize and demonstrate meiosis in a diploid cell by manipulating a simplified three-dimensional model of chromosomes in a model germ cell; this is for students to complete individually but work through in small groups.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Transmission/patterns of inheritance

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Activity Type: In-class exercise
Activity Length: 30-50 minutes



DNA Replication: A case discussion of a landmark paper by Meselson and Stahl

An exercise that couples a classic primary literature paper detailing the process of DNA replication with a set of questions designed to both guide students through the process of reading papers and delve deeply into the critical concept of replication.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations.

Audience: Advance undergraduate; biology/genetics majors; Introductory graduate

Activity Type: In-class exercise

Activity Length: 1 hour



Homologous chromosomes? Exploring human sex chromosomes, sex determination and sex reversal using bioinformatics approaches

Constructing a robust understanding of homologous chromosomes, sex chromosomes, and the particulate nature of genes is a notoriously difficult task for undergraduate biology students. In this four-part guided activity, students expand their knowledge of human chromosome pairs by closely examining autosomes, sex chromosomes, and the non-homologous elements of the human X and Y sex chromosomes.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of Genetic Material; Transmission/ Patterns of Inheritance; Genetic Variation

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to implement observational strategies to formulate a question; Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: In-class exercise

Activity Length: 2 hours



Human Genetic Variation: A flipped classroom exercise in cultural competency

A flipped-classroom exercise featuring an interactive case discussion, created to emphasize the clinical relevance of population genetics and also a suitable resource for teaching the basic principles of population genetics while relating them to human genetic variation.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Evolution and Population Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model; Students should be able to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: Advanced undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: In-class exercise

Activity Length: 1-1.5 hours



Learn.Genetics / Teach.Genetics

The resources through the Genetic Science Learning Center at University of Utah provide “accurate and unbiased information about topics in genetics, bioscience , and health” via lesson plans, thorough descriptions, animations, and interactivity.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of genetic material; Transmission/patterns of inheritance; Gene expression and regulation; Genetic variation; Evolution; Genetics and society

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science; Students should be able to effectively explain genetics concepts to different audiences; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience: K-12; introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics non-majors; general public

Activity Type: Varied

Activity Length: Varied



Sex-specific differences in Meiosis: Real-world applications

This resource focuses on teachingthe differences in meiosis between human sexes with a student-driven lesson plan that utilizes active-learning techinques.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Evolution and Population Genetics; Nature of Genetic Material

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience:Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors and non-majors

Activity Type: Lecture

Activity Length: 45 minutes



Teaching Genetic Linkage and Recombination through Mapping with Molecular Markers

This student-centered interactive lesson and associated post-class problem set teaches genetic linkage through mapping a gene by determining co-segregation of a phenotype with microsatellite sequences revealed by gel electrophoresis banding patterns.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Transmission/patterns of inheritance; Methods and Tools in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to apply statistical methods when analyzing their data, and use patterns to construct a model; Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results.

Audience:Introductory, undergraduate; biology/genetics majors

Activity Type: Lecture

Activity Length: 2-3 hours



Why do Some People Inherit a Predisposition to Cancer? A small group activity on cancer genetics

Through a small group activity that includes watching short video clips, answering clicker questions, and engaging in classroom discussion, this resource teaches students how a genetic predisposition to cancer can be inherited.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Transmission/patterns of inheritance; Evolution and Population Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results; Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations; Students should be able to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science; Students should be able to identify and critique scientific issues relating to society or ethics.

Audience:Introductory, upper level undergraduate; biology/genetics majors and non-majors

Activity Type: Lecture/ In-class activity

Activity Length: Two class periods (50-60 minute and 75-90 minute course options)



Why Meiosis Matters: The case of the fatherless snake

This story presents students with a compelling puzzle of a fatherless snake. The puzzle motivates students to learn about meiosis and mitosis. During the process, students work through the major steps in meiosis, compare and contrast mitosis and meiosis, and apply their understanding to predict how meiosis “went wrong” to produce an unusual offspring that did not originate through union of an egg and a sperm.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Transmission/patterns of inheritance

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses

Audience:Introductory undergraduate; biology/genetics majors and non-majors

Activity Type: Lecture

Activity Length: 75 minutes



Medical Genetics Ethics Cases

As our understanding of the genetic basis of human disease has grown, genetic testing applications for these conditions have grown in parallel. Discussion of the nuances of these testing strategies in the context of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, identification of incidental findings in genomic strategies, and other ethically complex scenarios is imperative for trainees to fully consider responsible use of genomic technologies.

Genetics Categories Addressed: How do different types of mutations affect genes and the corresponding mRNAs and proteins?

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to effectively explain genetics concepts to different audiences.

Audience: Intermediate, undergraduate major

Activity Type: In-Class/Lecture Exercise

Activity Length: 2 hours, but can be split over multiple sessions



What can the fruit fly tell us about the human eye?

This laboratory exercise provides a hands-on way for students to explore the categories of experiments developed by Adams (2003) – “Show it, block it, and move it.” Students observe fruit fly pupae that are ectopically over-expressing the eyeless gene in the imaginal disc tissues using the GAL4/UAS system. The pupae contain ectopic eyes in the legs, wings, and antennae regions of the body. This observation demonstrates that the eyeless gene is sufficient to produce eye tissue. Students then read a primary research article (Halder 1995) in which this effect was reported and explore the idea that eyeless is both necessary and sufficient to induce eye formation. Emphasis is also placed on the proper development of an experimental hypothesis and prediction as well as how to communicate the importance of basic research using model organisms to a broad audience.

Genetics Categories Addressed: Nature of Genetic Material; Genetics of Model Organisms; Methods and Tools in Genetics

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to locate, read, and comprehend primary literature research papers on genetics topics; Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses; Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data; Students should be able to effectively explain genetics concepts to different audiences.

Audience: Undergraduate (upper level biology majors, but it can be adapted for use with non-majors)

Activity Type: Laboratory Exercise

Activity Length: ~2.5-3 hours, but could be shortened



Sanger sequencing – a hands-on simulation

This hands-on simulation teaches the Sanger (dideoxy) method of DNA sequencing. In the process of carrying out the exercise, students also confront DNA synthesis, especially as it relates to chemical structure, and the stochastic nature of biological processes. The exercise is designed for an introductory undergraduate genetics course for biology majors. The exercise can be completed in around 90-minutes, which can be broken up into a 50-minute period for the simulation and a follow-up 50-minute (or less) period for discussion. This follow-up could also take place in a Teaching Assistant (TA) led section. The exercise involves interactions between student pairs and the entire class. There is an accompanying student handout with prompts that should be invoked where indicated in these instructions.

Genetics Categories Addressed: What are the molecular components and mechanisms necessary to preserve and duplicate an organism’s genome?
What experimental methods are commonly used to analyze gene structure, gene expression, gene function, and genetic variants?

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to locate, read, and comprehend primary literature research papers on genetics topics.
Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data.
Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results.
Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data.

Audience: Undergraduate

Activity Type: In-Class/Lecture Exercise

Activity Length: 1 class period



A Problem Based Learning Exercise on Food Security: Understanding the Role of Genomic Variation and Plant Breeding

Genome Science is concerned with the function and diversity of genomes within and across species as well as with applications, policies and ethics surrounding genetic and genomic data. This resource aims to introduce key concepts and current technologies and techniques in genome science to undergraduates majoring in biology or sub-disciplines of biology. This is accomplished by engaging student groups in an activity that explores how genomic variation can benefit food security. This three-stage Problem Based Learning (PBL) exercise,dubbed “Food Security: Understanding the Role of Genomic Variation and Plant Breeding,” guides students from understanding what food security entails, particularly environmental stress on crop production, to discovering how high-throughput sequencing (HTS) data on genomic variation can aid in solving such problems.The PBL resource is intended to be given over three separate class periods. Each stage includes a reading with new terms defined in the margins and a set of guiding questions. Students work in groups of three or four to complete each stage of the problem. Each stage takes about an hour including time for class-wide discussion of select questions. Students are ultimately challenged to think about how HTS data on genomic variation can help solve issues with food crop production. Following this exercise, students should be able to discuss approaches used to preserve and characterize genetic diversity and how this impacts plant breeding and food security.

Genetics Categories Addressed: This resource aims to introduce key concepts and current technologies and techniques in genome science to undergraduates majoring in biology or sub-disciplines of biology.

Core Competencies Addressed: Students should be able to discuss approaches used to preserve and characterize genetic diversity and how this impacts plant breeding and food security.

Audience: Undergraduate Biology Majors

Activity Type: In-Class/Problem Based Learning

Activity Length: 3-hours



Connecting human disease phenotype to genetic mutation and protein function: A modular data mining short course with an independent project sequence for lecture or lab

“Introduction to Data Mining” is a four-session online bioinformatics short course that covers topics including; literature searches, sequence databases, sequence similarity searches using BLAST, multiple sequence alignment, phylogeny reconstruction, protein structure databases, and 3D viewers. Each session is designed to familiarize undergraduate students with online databases and tools for use in scientific study. The module utilizes several online resources, databases, and search engines including: NCBI (Coordinators, 2016), RCSB-PDB (Berman et al., 2000), Molviz.org (Sayle & Milner-White, 1995), SDSC Biology Workbench (Subramaniam, 1998), as well as the open source PyMOL software (Schrodinger, 2015). The short course in its entirety is intended for mid- to upper-level undergraduates in a molecular biology, genetics, or biochemistry course. However, the modular design of the online course can be utilized to meet the needs of independent instructors and options are provided to adapt the materials for less advanced students. Although there are many data mining tutorials available, the unique strength of this educational module is the assignment of an independent project that necessitates the use of the data mining tools independently by each student, enhancing student familiarity and competence with the databases and tools that are introduced in the online tutorial (sessions 5 and 6). The resources for these projects are described and can be used separately from the online portion. The short course and independent research projects demonstrate the direct connection between genetic change, protein function, and human (clinical) phenotype.

Genetics Categories Addressed: This short course is an introduction to the concepts and principal databases of bioinformatics and structural biology/chemistry.

Core Competencies Addressed: This course should enable students to access and analyze sequence and structure data, explore phylogenetic relationships, create and edit images of protein molecules, generate a hypothesis as to the functional defect of a mutant protein associated with a given human disease phenotype, and present their results in several formats.

Audience: Undergraduates

Activity Type: Lab or lecture

Activity Length: Six 2-2.5 hour classes


Footer