Monday, August 31, 2009
I think everyone, including all A&P students, should be up to date on the major concepts of genetics and genomics. In most A&P courses, we don't have much (if any) time to cover the basics . . . I think most of us just assume that they've picked it all up in their prerequisite course(s). Or maybe simply by osmosis?
The way I handle it is to cover some of the basics in the section on molecular genetics when we cover cell structure and function. But a lot of it I cover in "extra credit" assignments over the course of both semesters.
One of the centerpieces of these projects is a guided reading of Matt Ridley's book Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters
The current (revised) edition (called the "P.S." edition) has been out a few years now, but still retains its up-to-date quality.
It's meant as an introduction to genetics and genomics for the general reading audience but it is a perfect way to introduce beginning A&P students to the principles that they will need to know as they proceed through their training and into their professions.
Each of the 23 chapters looks at one of the pairs of human chromosomes. Each chapter does not discuss the whole chromosome. Instead, Ridley picks out one or two essential principles that the structure or function of that chromosome can be used to illustrate.
Not only is Ridley able to explain the central genetic principles in an easily understood way, he is also able to do it mostly through stories rather than dry, technical descriptions and definitions.
If you haven't read it yet, you should. And if you haven't figured out a way to get your students to read it . . . well, then try my method. I give them additional points toward their course grades for reading the book and answering online test questions about each chapter.
For the description of the project, go to www.lionden.com/ap1_genome_x.htm
For a list of discussion questions to guide their reading of each chapter (that you are welcome to link to) go to www.lionden.com/ap1_genome_q.htm
Let me know what you think of the book!