Expertise for teaching biology situated in the context of genetic testing

Paul van der Zande, Sanne F. Akkerman, Mieke Brekelmans, Arend Jan Waarlo, Jan D. Vermunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary genomics research will impact the daily practice of biology teachers who want to teach up-to-date genetics in secondary education. This article reports on a research project aimed at enhancing biology teachers' expertise for teaching genetics situated in the context of genetic testing. The increasing body of scientific knowledge concerning genetic testing and the related consequences for decision-making indicate the societal relevance of an educational approach based on situated learning. What expertise do biology teachers need for teaching genetics in the personal health context of genetic testing? This article describes the required expertise by exploring the educational practice. Nine experienced teachers were interviewed about the pedagogical content, moral and interpersonal expertise areas concerning how to teach genetics in the personal health context of genetic testing, and the lessons of five of them were observed. The findings showed that the required teacher expertise encompasses specific pedagogical content expertise, interpersonal expertise and a preference for teacher roles and teaching approaches for the moral aspects of teaching in this context. A need for further development of teaching and learning activities for (reflection on) moral reasoning came to the fore. Suggestions regarding how to apply this expertise into context-based genetics education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1741-1767
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Biology education
  • Context-based learning
  • Genetics education
  • Socio-scientific issues
  • Teacher expertise


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