Science & Education 26 (10):1261-1290 (2017)

Authors
Gregory Radick
University of Leeds
Abstract
Twenty-first-century biology rejects genetic determinism, yet an exaggerated view of the power of genes in the making of bodies and minds remains a problem. What accounts for such tenacity? This article reports an exploratory study suggesting that the common reliance on Mendelian examples and concepts at the start of teaching in basic genetics is an eliminable source of support for determinism. Undergraduate students who attended a standard ‘Mendelian approach’ university course in introductory genetics on average showed no change in their determinist views about genes. By contrast, students who attended an alternative course which, inspired by the work of a critic of early Mendelism, W. F. R. Weldon, replaced an emphasis on Mendel’s peas with an emphasis on developmental contexts and their role in bringing about phenotypic variability, were less determinist about genes by the end of teaching. Improvements in both the new Weldonian curriculum and the study design are in view for the future.
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DOI 10.1007/s11191-017-9900-8
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References found in this work BETA

Mendel No Mendelian?Robert Cecil Olby - 1979 - History of Science 17 (1):53-72.

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