Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 519–531 | Cite as

Students’ Attitudes Toward Gene Technology: Deconstructing a Construct

  • Grant E. Gardner
  • Angelique Troelstrup


Emergent technologies are commonly characterized as involving cutting-edge developments while lacking wide-scale public implementation. Although currently prevalent in many applications, gene technology is often considered emergent in that the science changes so rapidly. Science educators at all levels of formal education are faced with a unique challenge of facilitating student understanding of gene technology (in comparison with more established content) as well as integrating some of the more controversial socioscientific aspects of such content into the curricula. Much of the literature regarding student understanding of biotechnology has focused on development of student attitudes toward the field and the impact of this on their learning. However, there has, of yet, been no unifying framework in the literature regarding what is meant by attitudes toward gene technology. This article reviews the current scholarship (38 empirical studies published between 1990 and 2011) on the measurement of student attitudes toward biotechnology in order to highlight major themes present within the literature. Items from all reviewed studies were collected, coded, and sorted for construction of a comprehensive instrument representing the conceptualizations of attitudes toward gene technology in all 38 studies. Factor analytic techniques were used as a tool to reduce and categorize measurement items. Results provided a framework of five factors that help describe student attitudes toward biotechnology across all the studies. This emergent framework of factors is proposed as a useful means to standardize the discourse in future research.


Attitudes Gene technology Biotechnology 



Timothy Darden, Danielle Johnson-Young, students who help gather and input the data on the literature provided in this review as well as validate some of the items.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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