This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Using Preparation for Future Learning to Change Student Attitudes about Race in Undergraduate Genetics Laboratories




Ball, Erin

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Biological Sciences


Racist actions and views are complex, can be implicit or explicit, and are not necessarily acknowledged or understood by the people who are contributing to racism in society. These views and actions have broad impacts on teaching and learning. The goal of this research was to develop a single self-contained genetics laboratory activity that teaches ideas related to human genetics while challenging the common misconception that race is biological in origin. A composite of three different surveys that measured biological racism, color-blind racism, and stereotype threat, as well as a concept inventory measuring student understanding of phylogenetics and human diversity, was analyzed at different points in the semester to understand the impact of this laboratory. The human genetics laboratory activity significantly decreased the belief that race was biological for White students, however, this effect was not significant among students of color. Notably, the activity did not seem to alter social attitudes about race, nor did it affect stereotype threat for any group of students. This underscores the importance of connecting genetics education with societally relevant concepts and that each specific connection must be made explicitly, rather than assuming students will intuit these connections on their own.