Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 8 (June, 2008)
Osman CARDAK and Musa Dikmenli
The knowledge of DNA and DNA technologies among pre-service science teachers

Previous Contents Next


A detailed analysis of the student answers is given below. When we look at the answers of the pre-service teachers concerning the discoverers of the B-DNA molecule and the discovery year of B-DNA, we see that 17% of the students gave correct answers about the name of the discoverers, and 83% answered incorrectly or didn’t answer at all. In addition, 96% of the pre-service science teachers gave wrong answers to discovery date of DNA (1950, 1937, etc.). The responses given by the 144 pre-service science teachers to the question about the structure of B-DNA including details like the number of DNA strands, chemical compositions, types of bonds, specific dimensions and complementary nature are shown in the Table 1.

Table 1. Analysis of responses of 144 pre-service teachers regarding the B-DNA structure

Structural details of B-DNA

Completely correct response (%)

Incorrect/Partly correct response (%)

Not attempted (%)

Number of strands




Chemical composition




Types of bonds




Specific dimensions




Complementary nature




While 46% of the pre-service teachers responded correctly to the number of DNA strands, 44% gave wrong responses or responses without scientific relevance. 10% of the pre-service teachers didn’t respond to the question. 60% answered correctly to the question regarding the chemical composition of DNA. 35% gave wrong responses and 5% didn’t answer. Some of the non-scientific alternative responses given by the pre-service teachers included amino acids and ribose saccharin. Some alternative conceptions about types of DNA bonds are Van der Waal’s bonds and covalent bonds. As for the question about the specific dimensions of DNA, a few of the pre-service teachers, 6%, gave correct responses, while the majority (94%) gave wrong answers or didn’t respond. While 49% of the pre-service teachers correctly answered the question about the complementary nature of DNA, 51% gave wrong and non-scientific responses (Table 1).

The question which asked what the gene does as a means of expression, approximately 50% of the pre-service teachers gave correct answers, while the other half gave wrong answers or answers without scientifically relevant responses.

When asked to draw the schema of the central dogma, it was revealed that 80% of the pre-service teachers couldn’t draw or didn’t give any responses. (For example RNA-DNA-Protein).

For the questions asked to learn about the knowledge of the pre-service teachers regarding cloning, gene cloning, animal cloning, 42% of the pre-service teachers mentioned both animal and gene cloning. When the question regarding gene cloning was specifically asked, 11% of the pre-service teachers gave scientifically valid, meaningful responses. When asked specifically about animal cloning, only 6% of the pre-service teachers were knowledgeable about the subject. Some of the pre-service science teachers were aware of cloned animals like Dolly.

Some of the acceptable thoughts of the pre-service teachers about cloning, gene cloning and animal cloning are as follows:

Acceptable ideas about cloning:

It is the forming of a genetic copy of an organism or cell. It is copying the same type of organism from someone’s cell. It is the copying of genetic material of an organism. It is copying; copying an organ may be the cure to most illnesses. It is copying DNA that carry the same genotype of an individual. Cloning means copying, in other words,forming a characteristic from the same characteristic. It is forming the same or similar organism by transferring a DNA to ovule.

Acceptable ideas about gene cloning:

It is the copying of the genetic code of an organism that carries all its vital characteristics. It is the exact copying of a gene with its codes. It is the transfer of a gene taken from the stem cell of an organism to another organism. It is the forming the double of a gene with the same characteristics. It is forming another gene with the same characteristics of a gene. As a defense against illnesses, it is transferring the genes of an organism to other organisms.

Acceptable ideas about animal cloning:

It is the forming a duplicate of an organism by copying the genetic material of an animal. It is the copying of an animal.

Some examples of the alternative conceptions of the pre-service science teachers with no scientific validity about cloning, gene cloning, animal cloning;

Alternative conceptions about cloning:

It is obtaining a new organism 100% similar to previous organism. It is transferring the characteristic of an organism to another organism. They are copied cells without any genetic change. It is creating the same DNA batch with another DNA batch. It is creating more cells from one cell with the help of fertilization. It is creating a new organism from an existing organism. It is creating individuals with the same phenotype and genotype. It is the studies in which the DNA bond is multiplied in artificial environment for creating organisms.

Alternative conceptions about gene cloning:

It is creating the same gene. It is the copying of genes without making any changes in their genetic structure. It is the process of creating new genes by the genes through other genes. It is transferring the gene of an organism to the new organism which will form. It is copying a characteristic of an organism. It is creating a new individual with the same DNA sequence but different kind.

Alternative conceptions about animal cloning:

It is copying all the animal’s genes. It is creating a new kind of animal type based on strong characterized egg and sperm cell from the animals. It is transferring the egg of the helper mother, which was impregnated in an outside setting to the carrier mother.

As for the question about DNA fingerprinting, only 22% of the pre-service teachers responded with meaningful opinions, while 78% didn’t answer or responded with no scientific validity.

As for the question which regarding who should be able to access to the genetic profile of an individual, 51% of the pre-service teachers stated the doctor and only the person concerned, 28% replied the person and immediate family members, 10% replied the police and security agencies, 11% responded as nobody, employer, school and college officials etc (Table 2).

Table 2. Pre-service teachers’ choices about the preference to access genetic information.



Doctor and only the person concerned


Person and immediate family members


Police and security agencies




When the pre-service science teachers were asked if they ever heard of GMOs, 86% stated that they had not and that they had no idea how the GMOs were created. From those who said they had heard of GMOs, they didn’t give any meaningful responses.

When the pre-service teachers were asked to write down some of the GMOs and GM drug names, 92% didn’t responded. A few of the pre-service teachers gave examples of banana, corn and tomato.

To the question that asked, “should GM plants allowed to be grown in Turkey”, 38% of the pre-service science teachers responded positively. Among those who replied negatively, they gave such responses as “they might create health problems, it is not ethical, .........’’

Copyright (C) 2008 HKIEd APFSLT. Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 8 (June, 2008). All Rights Reserved.