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1 January 2016 “Touching Triton”: Building Student Understanding of Complex Disease Risk
Madelene Loftin, Kelly East, Adam Hott, Neil Lamb
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Life science classrooms often emphasize the exception to the rule when it comes to teaching genetics, focusing heavily on rare single-gene and Mendelian traits. By contrast, the vast majority of human traits and diseases are caused by more complicated interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Research indicates that students have a deterministic view of genetics, generalize Mendelian inheritance patterns to all traits, and have unrealistic expectations of genetic technologies. The challenge lies in how to help students analyze complex disease risk with a lack of curriculum materials. Providing open access to both content resources and an engaging storyline can be achieved using a “serious game” model. “Touching Triton” was developed as a serious game in which students are asked to analyze data from a medical record, family history, and genomic report in order to develop an overall lifetime risk estimate of six common, complex diseases. Evaluation of student performance shows significant learning gains in key content areas along with a high level of engagement.

©2016 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Reprints and Permissions web page,
Madelene Loftin, Kelly East, Adam Hott, and Neil Lamb "“Touching Triton”: Building Student Understanding of Complex Disease Risk," The American Biology Teacher 78(1), 15-21, (1 January 2016).
Published: 1 January 2016

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Complex disease
computer simulation
disease risk.
high school biology
interactive game
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