Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2014


Despite the impact of genetics on daily life, biology undergraduates understand some key genetics concepts poorly. One concept requiring attention is dominance, which many students understand as a fixed property of an allele or trait and regularly conflate with frequency in a population or selective advantage. We present the Dominance Concept Inventory (DCI), an instrument to gather data on selected alternative conceptions about dominance. During development of the 16-item test, we used expert surveys (n = 12), student interviews (n = 42), and field tests (n = 1763) from introductory and advanced biology undergraduates at public and private, majority- and minority-serving, 2- and 4-yr institutions in the United States. In the final field test across all subject populations (n = 709), item difficulty ranged from 0.08 to 0.84 (0.51 ± 0.049 SEM), while item discrimination ranged from 0.11 to 0.82 (0.50 ± 0.048 SEM). Internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha) was 0.77, while test–retest reliability values were 0.74 (product moment correlation) and 0.77 (intraclass correlation). The prevalence of alternative conceptions in the field tests shows that introductory and advanced students retain confusion about dominance after instruction. All measures support the DCI as a useful instrument for measuring undergraduate biology student understanding and alternative conceptions about dominance.


© 2014 J. K. Abraham 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



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