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Epigenetic literacy and the implementation of epigenetics in school biology
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8735-2102
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4984-2415
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this study we aim to define what epigenetic literacy should be, and further investigate how it can be implemented in school biology. Epigenetics is the understanding of how the environment interplays with genes, and thus how the environment can affect human characteristics and behaviour. ‘Epi’ derives from the Greek word for ‘over’ and ‘above’ and the word ‘epigenetics’ refers to the mechanisms acting ‘above’ the sequence of the DNA base-pairs. Epigenetics has revolutionized biological theory since it explains how our life style, including factors such as exercise, stress and nutrition, influences our genes. Hence, everyday lifestyle decisions can materialistically explain cell changes and give information about the future health of, for example, students. Health issues are highly profiled in media and society today. However, epigenetics is not yet included in the biology curricula in Sweden or many other countries. Therefore, this study aims to identify what should be taught in school biology about epigenetics, and investigate how it can be integrated in genetics education.

The study includes two ongoing sub-studies: a Delphi study and a Design study we investigate what epigenetic processes and conceptions a citizen needs to know to be able to make relevant decisions concerning both personal and social issues related to epigenetics. In the design study we develop, implement and evaluate a teaching module based on the findings from the Delphi study. Twelve in-service biology teachers at lower and upper secondary schools will take part in this study.

In the Delphi study we identified three main areas of epigenetic literacy regarding 1) Epigenetic content knowledge, including core ideas of mechanisms, chromatin, cell differentiation, cell memory, enzymatic control, life history, reversibility and risk; 2) Epigenetic and society, including core ideas of epigenetics related to its influence on lifestyle, diseases, pregnancy, ethics, manipulation of organisms, policy, forensics, policy and crimes; 3) Organization of teaching epigenetics, an area in which most experts recommend that epigenetics should mainly be integrated with the genetic units, but also with other biology topics such as evolution, ecology and health education. The Delphi study show that epigenetics is considered a controversial topic from a scientific perspective because the view of epigenetics as a paradigm shift or not differs among the experts. Therefore, many experts recommended that epigenetics should be taught from a nature of science perspective. At the ERIDOB conference results relating to the design study will also be presented.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Educational Sciences Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-75295OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-75295DiVA, id: diva2:1360697
Conference
Oral presentation at the ERIDOB (European Researchers In Didactics Of Biology) conference. 2 – 6th of July, Zaragoza, Spain.
Available from: 2019-10-14 Created: 2019-10-14 Last updated: 2019-10-28Bibliographically approved

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Gericke, NiklasMc Ewen, Birgitta

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