Secondary school teachers' conceptual understanding about selected concepts of genetics: An exploratory study from Baltistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Genetics is a subject that many learners and teachers find difficult to learn and teach respectively. This cross-sectional survey study was carried out to investigate secondary school biology teachers’ conceptual understanding about the selected concepts of genetics including: Cell Division, Fertilization and Reproduction and Cells followed by comparison in teachers’ conceptual understanding across school system in Baltistan. Another aim was to identify the most difficult questions in the Genetic Conception Assessment (GCA) to indicate the difficulties in the particular concepts of genetics. GCA tool had adapted from a previous study and found to be reliable (α=0.84) and also validated through content and methodological reviewers. GCA was piloted before administration to compute contextual relevancy, difficulty index and discrimination index. GCA was directly administered to 130 participants/science teachers randomly recruited from government (n=67) and private (n=63) schools. Results demonstrated that teachers scored 65% of the total score exhibiting above average conceptual understanding. On average, private school teachers have exhibited a better conceptual understanding (M=70, SE=1.60) than their counterparts (M=60, SE=2.11) in government schools (p<0.001; r=0.32). Results followed a similar pattern for the three domains in GCA. However, the difference was found to be significant only on domain ‘fertilization and reproduction’ (p< 0.001; r = 0.38). Of the 33 items, six items (18%) were identified as the most difficult items (score <29%). Findings revealed that teachers’ exhibited better understanding of concepts: site of meiosis in human-body and chromosome numbers in egg, sperm and fertilized egg. It was also found that teachers possessed misconceptions about basics of mitosis and meiosis with inadequate understanding of reproduction concept. Furthermore, teachers found it difficult to reason well in an explicit way. This study provides significant insight into the under-researched area in Pakistani context to inform policy, practice and further research. Keeping the results in view, professional development courses in developing conceptual understanding of teachers could be emphasized. The findings of this study make a valuable contribution to indigenous literature.

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