Topic: Reproduction, Genes, and Heredity

Below is a list of key ideas related to Reproduction, Genes, and Heredity. For each key idea, you will find a list of sub-ideas, a list of items, results from our field testing, and a list of student misconceptions. After clicking on a tab, click on it again to close the tab.

Genetic information is encoded in DNA molecules.

Students are expected to know that:

  1. Genetic (hereditary) information is the set of instructions that specifies the physical and behavioral characteristics of organisms.
  2. Genetic information is found in all living organisms.
  3. The instructions that specify the physical and behavioral characteristics of organisms are coded in DNA molecules (not in protein, carbohydrate, or fat molecules).
  4. DNA molecules are made up of four different types of subunits called nucleotides that are linked together in long chains.
  5. The sequence of subunits in a DNA molecule is what encodes the genetic information.
  6. DNA is packaged as chromosomes in the cells of organisms.
  7. Each chromosome is made of a single DNA molecule.
  8. A gene is one or more segments of a DNA molecule that contributes to one or more particular physical and behavioral characteristics.
  9. Each chromosome is made of many different genes.

Boundaries:

  1. Students are not expected to know the names of the nucleotide subunits.
  2. Students are not expected to know that DNA is bound to histones and other proteins in chromosomes.
Percent of students answering correctly (click on the item ID number to view the item and additional data)
Item ID
Number

Knowledge Being Assessed

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

Select This Item for My Item Bank

RH001001

DNA is the molecule that contains genetic information that is passed from parents to offspring.

94%

96%

RH026004

Both chromosomes and DNA molecules contain genetic information.

58%

72%

RH026001

Both genes and DNA molecules contain hereditary information.

59%

66%

RH014001

The genetic code is the sequence of subunits in a DNA molecule.

53%

70%

RH026003

Both chromosomes and DNA molecules contain hereditary information.

51%

63%

RH026002

Both genes and chromosomes contain hereditary information.

48%

62%

RH046001

DNA molecules are found in humans, butterflies, and trees.

46%

59%

RH024002

Both an organism's physical characteristics and the function of the organism's cells could be affected by the information in the organism's DNA molecules (no specific organism identified).

45%

52%

RH024005

Both a bird's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be affected by the information in the bird's DNA molecules.

45%

50%

RH045001

DNA molecules are found in humans, dogs, and trees.

42%

54%

RH024003

Both a human's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be affected by the information in the DNA molecules in the human.

42%

50%

RH002003

Four different types of nucleotides are used to make DNA molecules, not one, two, or twenty.

40%

52%

RH002002

Four different types of nucleotides are used to make DNA molecules, not one, two, or twenty.

38%

61%

RH024006

Both an insect's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be affected by the information in the DNA molecules in the insect.

42%

49%

RH024004

Both a plant's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be affected by the information in the DNA molecules in the plant.

41%

48%

RH024001

Both an organism's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be affected by the information in the organism's DNA molecules (no specific organism identified).

42%

45%

RH040001

Nucleotides (not amino acids, proteins, or fatty acids) are the subunits that make up DNA molecules.

34%

44%

RH002001

Four different types of nucleotides are used to make DNA molecules, not one, two, or three.

28%

41%

RH041001

Each chromosome is made of a single DNA molecule.

26%

23%

RH027001

Genes are chemical sequences of nucleotides, not the actual expression of characteristics or traits.

15%

19%

Frequency of selecting a misconception

Misconception
ID Number

Student Misconception

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

RHM045

Genes are traits (Marbach-Ad, 2001).

64%

57%

RHM008

A gene and the expression of the gene as a characteristic or trait are the same thing (Lewis & Kattman, 2004).

64%

57%

RHM105

There are some types of organisms that do not have DNA (See Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000; Banet & Ayuso, 2000).

56%

44%

RHM093

The information in the DNA molecules of a plant does not affect the behaviors of the plant (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

46%

42%

RHM092

The information in the DNA molecules of an insect does not affect the behaviors of the insect (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

44%

40%

RHM091

The information in the DNA molecules of a bird does not affect the behaviors of the bird (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

41%

39%

RHM085

The information in the DNA molecules of an organism does not affect the the organism's behaviors (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

40%

41%

RHM090

The information in the DNA molecules of a human does not affect the behaviors of the human (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

41%

39%

RHM097

Amino acids are the subunits that make up DNA (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

38%

34%

RHM048

Only animals have DNA; plants and mushrooms do not have DNA (Banet & Ayuso, 2000).

40%

30%

RHM083

The information in the DNA molecules of an organism does not affect the functions of an organism's cells (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

36%

34%

RHM095

Two types of nucleotides make up DNA molecules (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

35%

30%

RHM047

Each DNA molecule is made of more than one chromosome (Marbach-Ad, 2001).

31%

34%

RHM046

Each chromosome is made of more than one DNA molecule (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

31%

33%

RHM102

Chromosomes do not contain genetic/hereditary information (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

34%

24%

RHM084

The information in the DNA molecules of an organism does not affect the physical characteristics of the organism (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

28%

23%

RHM088

The information in the DNA molecules of an insect does not affect the physical characteristics of the insect (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

28%

20%

RHM086

The information in the DNA molecules of a human does not affect the physical characteristics of the human (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

28%

17%

RHM089

The information in the DNA molecules of a plant does not affect the physical characteristics of the plant (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

26%

19%

RHM103

DNA molecules do not contain genetic/hereditary information (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

25%

20%

RHM096

Three types of nucleotides make up DNA molecules (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

25%

18%

RHM087

The information in the DNA molecules of a bird does not affect the physical characteristics of the bird (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

23%

18%

RHM094

The genetic code is the number of subunits in DNA molecules -- not the sequence (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

26%

14%

RHM104

Genes do not contain genetic/hereditary information (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

22%

16%

RHM098

Twenty types of nucleotides make up DNA molecules (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

16%

9%

RHM099

Genes are sequences of amino acids (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

12%

15%

RHM049

Only 'higher' animals have DNA; many invertebrates do not have DNA (Banet & Ayuso, 2000).

15%

10%

RHM007

Genes are proteins (Marbach-Ad, 2001).

9%

9%

Frequency of selecting a misconception was calculated by dividing the total number of times a misconception was chosen by the number of times it could have been chosen, averaged over the number of students answering the questions within this particular idea.

Every body cell of an individual organism (with a few exceptions) contains an identical set of DNA molecules and, therefore, contains identical genetic information.

Students are expected to know that:

  1. DNA molecules are smaller than cells and, therefore, can fit inside cells.
  2. DNA, and the chromosomes and genes that are made of DNA, are located inside almost all types of cells in the body.
  3. Every body cell (not a sex cell) that contains DNA in a multi-cellular organism contains identical DNA molecules to every other body cell because every body cell is descended from a single fertilized egg cell, and the DNA in each cell is duplicated every time a cell divides.
  4. In all organisms, whenever a single body cell forms two body cells, the resulting body cells each contain the same number of DNA molecules (and, therefore, the same number of chromosomes) as the original body cell.
  5. Each DNA molecule in a body cell is a member of a pair of DNA molecules. With the exception of the sex-determining DNA molecules, the two DNA molecules that make up a pair contain instructions affecting the same traits. The two DNA molecules making up a pair contain similar sequences of subunits and are similar in length.
  6. One member of each pair of DNA molecules contains genetic information from the mother and the other member of the pair contains genetic information from the father.

Boundaries:

  1. Students are not expected to know that some cells in the body may not have an identical set of DNA molecules, because some cells may have DNA that has mutated.
  2. Students are not expected to know that some cells in the body (e.g. red blood cells) do not have DNA..
  3. Students are not expected to know specifically where in a cell the DNA is located (e.g., nucleus, mitochondria).
  4. Students are not expected to know anything about DNA in viruses, bacteria, plasmids, or polyploidy.
Percent of students answering correctly (click on the item ID number to view the item and additional data)
Item ID
Number

Knowledge Being Assessed

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

Select This Item for My Item Bank

RH003001

DNA molecules are found inside all types of cells in an animal's body.

55%

67%

RH004002

The correct order from smallest to largest is: atom, chromosome, cell.

43%

56%

RH003002

Chromosomes are located inside all types of cells in an animal's body.

44%

50%

RH004001

The correct order from smallest to largest is: atom, DNA molecule, cell.

42%

51%

RH011001

Brain cells and skin cells both contain DNA molecules, which contain the same genetic information.

40%

54%

RH035004

A new skin cell of a cow contains the same number of chromosomes as the existing skin cells.

33%

56%

RH035003

A new skin cell of a cow contains the same number of DNA molecules as the existing skin cells.

31%

58%

RH018003

DNA molecules in skin cells contain information about both skin color and eye color.

37%

39%

RH036004

The cells of a leaf and the cells of a flower contain the same genetic information.

31%

41%

RH036003

The DNA molecules in the cells of a plant’s leaves and its in flowers is the same.

29%

40%

RH018004

DNA molecules in muscle cells also contain information about both skin color and eye color.

32%

32%

RH011002

Brain cells and skin cells contain the same genetic information.

27%

38%

RH039002

When a muscle cell of a chimpanzee divides, the new muscle cells contain the same number of chromosomes as the original muscle cell.

25%

35%

RH012001

The genetic information that affects eye color is found in all the different kinds of body cells.

22%

31%

RH013002

The sequence of subunits in the DNA of a stomach cell in a mouse is the same as the sequence of subunits in the DNA of other cells in the mouse’s body.

21%

31%

Frequency of selecting a misconception

Misconception
ID Number

Student Misconception

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

RHM116

The different cell types (skin, muscle, cartilage, etc.) found in a given individual’s body contain different DNA (see Hackling & Treagust, 1984).

61%

55%

RHM020

Each cell contains only the specific genetic information required for its function (Banet & Ayuso, 1999; Lewis & Kattman, 2004; Lewis et al., 2000a).

42%

44%

RHM019

Chromosomes and/or genes do not occur in all types of cells (Banet & Ayuso, 1999).

43%

42%

RHM109

The different cell types (skin, muscle, cartilage, etc.) found in a given individual’s body contain different genetic information (See Hackling & Treagust, 1984).

44%

37%

RHM111

The cells found in different parts of an individual plant (flower, leaf, stem, root, etc.) contain different genetic information (see Hackling & Treagust, 1984 for a similar statement about animals).

43%

38%

RHM114

The cells found in different parts of an individual plant (flower, leaf, stem, root, etc.) contain different DNA molecules (see Hackling & Treagust, 1984 for a similar statement about animals).

38%

34%

RHM115

Genetic information exists in the body part it controls but not in other places in the body (see Venville et al., 2005).

36%

33%

RHM021

Chromosomes are divided up at each cell division, such that when a single body cell forms two body cells, the resulting cells each contain fewer chromosomes than the original cell (Lewis & Wood-Robinson, 2000).

36%

33%

RHM057

A cell is smaller than DNA (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

30%

28%

RHM050

Chromosomes are located inside sex cells but not inside any other types of cells in an animal's body (Banet & Ayuso, 2000).

26%

32%

RHM058

Cells are smaller than chromosomes (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

31%

25%

RHM110

Not all types of cells contain genetic information (see Banet & Ayuso, 1999).

28%

23%

RHM113

Not all types of cells contain DNA molecules (see Banet & Ayuso, 1999).

19%

14%

RHM052

DNA is located inside sex cells but not inside any other types of cells in the body (Banet & Ayuso, 2000).

16%

12%

RHM053

DNA is located inside blood cells but not inside any other types of cells in an animal's body (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.; Venville et al., 2005).

17%

11%

RHM051

Chromosomes are located inside blood cells but not inside any other types of cells in an animal's body (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

16%

10%

RHM048

Only animals have DNA; plants and mushrooms do not have DNA (Banet & Ayuso, 2000).

13%

11%

RHM112

Only the cells of animals contain genetic information; the cells of plants and mushrooms do not contain genetic information (see Banet & Ayuso, 2000).

10%

8%

RHM107

Human brain cells do not contain DNA molecules (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

9%

5%

RHM108

Human skin cells do not contain DNA molecules (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

6%

4%

Frequency of selecting a misconception was calculated by dividing the total number of times a misconception was chosen by the number of times it could have been chosen, averaged over the number of students answering the questions within this particular idea.

Genetic information in the form of DNA molecules is transferred from parents to offspring during reproduction.

Students are expected to know that:

  1. In sexually reproducing organisms, only half of the genetic information of each parent is passed to each of its offspring.
  2. During sexual reproduction, parents produce specialized cells called sex cells (e.g., eggs, sperm, pollen) that contain half as many DNA molecules (and, therefore, chromosomes) as are found in the other cells of the organism (body cells).
  3. A sex cell from one parent merges with a sex cell from the other parent in a process called fertilization, and the fertilized egg cell has twice as many DNA molecules as the sex cell and the same number of DNA molecules (and, therefore, chromosomes) as the body cells of each parent.
  4. The offspring that develop from the single cell that was formed from the combination of the two sex cells have traits of both parents because they have DNA from both parents.
  5. In sexually reproducing organisms, traits that are acquired during the lifetime of an organism and affect its body cells (e.g. due to injuries, malnutrition, mutation, weight training) cannot be passed from parent to offspring. Only changes in the DNA of the sex cells of an organism can be inherited by offspring.
  6. In asexually reproducing organisms (uni-cellular or multi-cellular), all of the inherited genetic information comes from one parent cell. The offspring’s DNA molecules (and therefore the offspring’s genes and chromosomes) contain the same information as the DNA molecules of the parent.
  7. Following asexual reproduction, the genetic information contained in the DNA molecules in the resulting cells is the same as the genetic information in the DNA molecules of the original cell.
  8. In both sexually and asexually reproducing organisms, there is no other mechanism by which genetic information is passed to offspring other than by the transfer of DNA.

Boundaries:

  1. Students are not expected to know that sexual reproduction can involve self-fertilization by a single parent having both male and female sex cells.
  2. Students are not expected to know that the amount of genetic material in a sex cell is not exactly half of that found in a body cell due to differences in the sizes of the different sex chromosomes and/or the transmission of the entire mitochondrial DNA molecule.
  3. Students are not expected to know that environmental factors interact with DNA at the molecular level to affect the genetic information that is expressed.
Percent of students answering correctly (click on the item ID number to view the item and additional data)
Item ID
Number

Knowledge Being Assessed

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

Select This Item for My Item Bank

RH025002

Eye color of offspring often resembles the eye color of parents because molecules that contain information for specifying eye color are passed from parents to offspring during reproduction.

62%

78%

RH059001

If a cat gets its ears torn off in a fight and then has kittens later, it will have no effect on the ears of any of the kittens.

60%

74%

RH038001

If a mouse loses its tail in a mousetrap and has babies later, there will be no effect on the tails of the baby mice.

58%

67%

RH034002

A sex cell of an organism contains half as many DNA molecules as a fertilized egg cell of that organism.

56%

64%

RH053001

An unfertilized egg cell contains half as many DNA molecules as a fertilized egg cell.

54%

62%

RH033002

If the skin cells of a mouse each contain 40 chromosomes, the sperm cells of a mouse contain 20 chromosomes.

50%

61%

RH052001

There are half as many DNA molecules in an unfertilized egg cell as in a fertilized egg cell.

54%

57%

RH006003

If the sex cells in mice contain 20 chromosomes, then the fertilized egg cell of a mouse contains 40 chromosomes.

53%

53%

RH058001

Children inherit half of the DNA in each of their cells from one parent, and half from the other parent.

45%

55%

RH005005

In sexually reproducing organisms, such as humans, half of the chromosomes contain genetic information from one parent and half from the other parent.

44%

57%

RH055001

In sexually reproducing organisms such as humans, half of a child's DNA comes from each of the parents.

44%

58%

RH049001

Sea anemones can reproduce asexually, and when they do, all of the offspring's DNA is the same as the DNA in its one parent.

46%

50%

RH005004

In sexually reproducing organisms such as humans, half of the genetic information comes from each of the parents.

44%

51%

RH054001

If the sex cells of a mouse contain 20 chromosomes, then the fertilized egg of a mouse must contain 40 chromosomes.

45%

49%

RH051001

In asexually reproducing organisms, all of an offspring's DNA is identical to its parent's DNA.

35%

53%

RH010002

In organisms that reproduce without the combining of two cells, all of the information in the parent's DNA molecules is passed to its offspring.

35%

47%

RH031002

In organisms that reproduce without the combining of two cells, the information in the DNA molecules of parents and offspring is identical.

33%

48%

RH050001

In plants that reproduce asexually, all of the parent's DNA is passed to its offspring.

33%

51%

RH047001

In sexually reproducing organisms such as humans, 50% of the DNA in each of the daughter's body cells is from her father.

30%

47%

RH032002

In sexually reproducing organisms, such as humans, the sex cells contain half the number of DNA molecules as other cells in the human's body.

32%

41%

RH009002

A skin cell of an organism contains the same genetic information as the fertilized egg cell of that organism.

30%

38%

RH008004

In sexually reproducing organisms such as humans, all of the daughter's body cells contain some genetic information from her mother.

22%

29%

RH008003

In sexually reproducing organisms such as humans, all of the son's body cells contain some genetic information from his mother.

19%

25%

RH048001

100% of a son's body cells contain some DNA from his mother.

12%

22%

RH007002

If a mutation occurs to a DNA molecule in an organism's skin cell before the organism reproduces, none of the organism's offspring will have the mutation.

12%

16%

Frequency of selecting a misconception

Misconception
ID Number

Student Misconception

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

RHM126

In sexually reproducing organisms, half of the organism's body cells contain DNA from the mother and half contain DNA from the father.

45%

50%

RHM040

Some characteristics of an offspring are determined by the parents' environmentally acquired characteristics (Lawson, 1988).

41%

30%

RHM033

Each parent contributes genetic information for certain characteristics and not others (e.g. a child has his father's nose and his mother's eyes) (Clough & Wood-Robinson, 1985).

34%

25%

RHM125

The genetic information in a fertilized egg is divided up among different cells as they divide during development (see Banet & Ayuso, 1999).

29%

28%

RHM015

The timing of the occurrence of an environmentally induced characteristic will affect whether the characteristic is transmitted to offspring (Kargbo et al., 1980).

29%

24%

RHM123

In asexually reproducing organisms, half of the parent's DNA is passed to its offspring.

30%

22%

RHM081

In asexual reproduction, half of the offspring's DNA is the same as the DNA in its one parent (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

29%

22%

RHM117

The specialized cells used for sexual reproduction contain the same number of DNA molecules as the other cells of the body (see Lewis et al., 2000).

23%

22%

RHM120

A fertilized sex cell has the same number of chromosomes as an unfertilized sex cell (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

21%

24%

RHM082

In asexual reproduction, the amount of DNA in an offspring that is identical to the DNA in its parent varies from offspring to offspring (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

25%

18%

RHM124

Genetic information is inherited from the same-sex parent (i.e. daughters get their DNA from their mother, and sons get their DNA from their father) (see Clough & Wood-Robinson, 1985; Kargbo et al., 1980).

23%

15%

RHM119

The specialized cells used for sexual reproduction contain the same number of chromosomes as the other cells of the body (see Lewis et al., 2000).

20%

19%

RHM118

A fertilized egg cell contains the same number of DNA molecules as an unfertilized egg cell.

18%

16%

RHM023

How old an organism is when it acquires an environmentally induced characteristic will affect whether the characteristic is passed on to its offspring (e.g. If a father lost a finger as a child he will pass the missing-finger trait to his children, but if he lost his finger as an adult he will not pass the missing-finger trait to his children) (Kargbo et al., 1980).

11%

11%

RHM002

Offspring resemble parents because trait-bearing "particles" are transferred from parents to offspring during reproduction, e.g. particles of blue for blue eyes (Lewis & Kattman, 2004).

13%

7%

RHM012

In sexually reproducing organisms, genetic information or traits are inherited from only one parent (Clough & Wood-Robinson, 1985; Kargbo et al., 1980).

10%

10%

RHM121

Genetic information is inherited from the same-sex parent (i.e. daughters get their chromosomes from their mother, and sons get their chromosomes from their father) (see Clough & Wood-Robinson, 1985; Kargbo et al., 1980).

12%

7%

RHM013

Genetic information or traits are inherited from the same-sex parent (i.e. daughters get their mother's DNA and sons get their father's DNA) (Clough & Wood-Robinson, 1985; Kargbo et al., 1980).

11%

7%

RHM122

In sexually reproducing organisms, DNA is inherited from only one parent (see Clough & Wood-Robinson, 1985; Kargbo et al., 1980).

8%

9%

Frequency of selecting a misconception was calculated by dividing the total number of times a misconception was chosen by the number of times it could have been chosen, averaged over the number of students answering the questions within this particular idea.

DNA molecules provide the cells with instructions for assembling protein molecules from amino acids.

Students are expected to know that:

  1. Protein molecules are made up of amino acid subunits linked together in a specific sequence.
  2. DNA molecules provide instructions for linking and ordering amino acids to form protein molecules.
  3. Each sequence of three nucleotides in a molecule of DNA codes for an amino acid.
  4. The set of nucleotides in a DNA molecule that provide instructions for assembling a particular protein molecule from amino acids is called a gene.
  5. 20 different types of amino acids are used to make protein molecules.
  6. A change to the sequence of nucleotides in a gene within a molecule of DNA can alter the protein that is produced.
  7. Changes to the sequence of nucleotides in a molecule of DNA can come from insertions, deletions, or substitutions of one or more nucleotide subunits in a DNA molecule.
  8. Changes to the sequence of nucleotides in a molecule of DNA are called mutations.

Boundaries:

  1. Students are not expected to know the terms: transcription, translation, messenger RNA, transfer RNA, codons, or anticodons.
Frequency of selecting a misconception

Misconception
ID Number

Student Misconception

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

RHM128

Amino acids provide instructions for making proteins in an organism (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

36%

44%

RHM101

Four types of amino acids are used to make protein molecules (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

37%

43%

RHM065

The information in genes provides instructions for rearranging DNA into traits (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

40%

33%

RHM064

The information in DNA molecules provides instructions for rearranging genes into traits (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

41%

29%

RHM063

Four nucleotides are needed to code for one amino acid (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

32%

35%

RHM100

Three types of amino acids are used to make protein molecules (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

35%

27%

RHM066

The information in genes provides instructions for assembling chromosomes into DNA (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

31%

31%

RHM062

DNA is made of amino acids (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

29%

29%

RHM129

Enzymes provide information for making proteins in an organism (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

26%

24%

RHM127

An organism makes proteins from individual carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen atoms (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

29%

19%

RHM009

DNA is made of protein (Marbach-Ad, 2001).

20%

17%

RHM010

Proteins are composed of DNA or genes (Marbach-Ad, 2001).

19%

15%

RHM044

Organisms eat proteins; they do not make them (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

21%

10%

Frequency of selecting a misconception was calculated by dividing the total number of times a misconception was chosen by the number of times it could have been chosen, averaged over the number of students answering the questions within this particular idea.

The protein molecules an organism makes affect the organism’s physical traits, physiology, and behaviors.

Students are expected to know that:

  1. The presence, amount, type, or actions of protein molecules made in an organism’s cells are reflected in an organism’s traits.
  2. Protein molecules are involved in chemical reactions that are responsible for an organism’s body functions.

Boundaries:

  1. Students are not expected to know any of the specific reactions that link proteins to traits.
Percent of students answering correctly (click on the item ID number to view the item and additional data)
Item ID
Number

Knowledge Being Assessed

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

Select This Item for My Item Bank

RH022002

Protein molecules help cells carry out many of their functions, and they are part of body structures such as hair and nails.

48%

61%

RH023005

Both an insect's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be influenced by the actions of protein molecules within the insect's cells.

40%

39%

RH023004

Both a bird's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be influenced by the actions of protein molecules within the bird's cells.

37%

40%

RH023002

Both an organism's physical characteristics and the function of the organism's cells could be influenced by the actions of protein molecules in an organism's cells (no specific organism identified).

34%

39%

RH022001

Protein molecules speed up chemical reactions in cells and help other molecules get in and out of cells.

31%

38%

RH022003

Protein molecules help other molecules get in and out of cells and speed up chemical reactions in cells.

32%

32%

RH023006

Both a plant's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be influenced by the actions of protein molecules within the plant's cells.

29%

35%

RH023003

Both a human's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be influenced by the actions of protein molecules within the cells of the human.

29%

33%

RH023001

Both an organism's physical characteristics and its behaviors could be influenced by the actions of protein molecules (no specific organism identified).

28%

29%

Frequency of selecting a misconception

Misconception
ID Number

Student Misconception

Grades
6–8

Grades
9–12

RHM077

The actions of protein molecules do not affect a plant's behaviors (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

48%

50%

RHM076

The actions of protein molecules do not affect an organism's behaviors (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

48%

50%

RHM080

The actions of protein molecules do not affect a human's behaviors (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

47%

51%

RHM079

The actions of protein molecules do not affect an insect's behaviors (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

45%

46%

RHM078

The actions of protein molecules do not affect a bird's behaviors (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

47%

44%

RHM069

The actions of protein molecules do not affect the speed of chemical reactions (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

42%

39%

RHM071

The actions of protein molecules do not affect an organism's physical characteristics (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

40%

41%

RHM070

The actions of protein molecules do not help molecules in and out of cells (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

41%

39%

RHM075

The actions of protein molecules do not affect a human's physical characteristics (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

37%

35%

RHM072

The actions of protein molecules do not affect a plant's physical characteristics (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

38%

29%

RHM067

The actions of protein molecules do not affect an organism's body structures (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

36%

25%

RHM073

The actions of protein molecules do not affect a bird's physical characteristics (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

29%

28%

RHM074

The actions of protein molecules do not affect an insect's physical characteristics (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

26%

27%

RHM068

The actions of protein molecules do not affect the basic functions of cells (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

26%

20%

Frequency of selecting a misconception was calculated by dividing the total number of times a misconception was chosen by the number of times it could have been chosen, averaged over the number of students answering the questions within this particular idea.