Reaching a consensus on the definition of genetics literacy that is required by a 21st century citizen

Leading team

Prof. Anat Yarden

Prof. Dirk Jan Boerwinkel (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

Prof. Arend Jan Waarlo (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)


The distance between our understanding of genetics and genetics education has increased in recent years, leaving graduates of the educational system unprepared for personal decision making in the 21st century. We are involved in a three step Delphi study in which 57 international experts were asked to formulate what knowledge of genetics is relevant for all citizens. The answers were classified using the PISA2015 framework to conceptual, epistemic and procedural knowledge. The conceptual knowledge was further categorized using the framework proposed by Duncan et al (2009), while the epistemic knowledge and procedural knowledge were categorized according to criteria that emerged from the data, composing together the first stage of the Delphi study. In the second phase of the study, the experts met and discussed the emerged framework in light of six authentic case studies in which citizens were confronted with the need to use genetics knowledge. The outcomes of the discussions were used for improving the definition of genetics literacy, and will be discussed in the third and final round. Altogether the three knowledge types along with their justifications compose the initial grounds for towards reaching a consensus regarding a definition of the term Genetic Literacy. The study aims at informing curricula developers, science educators and researchers involved in updating life sciences education.

Related articles

Related materials

  • Yarden, A., and Boerwinkel, D. J. (2013). Reaching a consensus on the definition of genetics literacy that is required by a 21st century citizen. In: Looking to the future in Biological Education Research, A symposium organized by ERIDOB (European Researchers in Biology of Didactics of Biology) and JBE (Journal of Biological Education), at the Bi-Annual Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Nicosia, Cyprus.