Springer Nature

Genie: an interactive real-time simulation for teaching genetic drift

Posted on 2022-02-22 - 04:32
Abstract Neutral evolution is a fundamental concept in evolutionary biology but teaching this and other non-adaptive concepts is especially challenging. Here we present Genie, a browser-based educational tool that demonstrates population-genetic concepts such as genetic drift, population isolation, gene flow, and genetic mutation. Because it does not need to be downloaded and installed, Genie can scale to large groups of students and is useful for both in-person and online instruction. Genie was used to teach genetic drift to Evolution students at Arizona State University during Spring 2016 and Spring 2017. The effectiveness of Genie to teach key genetic drift concepts and misconceptions was assessed with the Genetic Drift Inventory developed by Price et al. (CBE Life Sci Educ 13(1):65–75, 2014). Overall, Genie performed comparably to that of traditional static methods across all evaluated classes. We have empirically demonstrated that Genie can be successfully integrated with traditional instruction to reduce misconceptions about genetic drift.


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Evolution: Education and Outreach


Andreina I. Castillo
Ben H. Roos
Michael S. Rosenberg
Reed A. Cartwright
Melissa A. Wilson


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