Document Type


Publication Date



Understanding genetic drift is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of biology, yet it is difficult to learn because it combines the conceptual challenges of both evolution and randomness. To help assess strategies for teaching genetic drift, we have developed and evaluated the Genetic Drift Inventory (GeDI), a concept inventory that measures upper-division students’ understanding of this concept. We used an iterative approach that included extensive interviews and field tests involving 1723 students across five different undergraduate campuses. The GeDI consists of 22 agree–disagree statements that assess four key concepts and six misconceptions. Student scores ranged from 4/22 to 22/22. Statements ranged in mean difficulty from 0.29 to 0.80 and in discrimination from 0.09 to 0.46. The internal consistency, as measured with Cronbach's alpha, ranged from 0.58 to 0.88 across five iterations. Test–retest analysis resulted in a coefficient of stability of 0.82. The true–false format means that the GeDI can test how well students grasp key concepts central to understanding genetic drift, while simultaneously testing for the presence of misconceptions that indicate an incomplete understanding of genetic drift. The insights gained from this testing will, over time, allow us to improve instruction about this key component of evolution.


© 2014 R. M. Price et al.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Publication Title

CBE—Life Sciences Education



Included in

Biology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.