Inquiry Task- Genetic Technologies, DNA & Disease

Guidance for teachers for using medical genetics as a context for a secondary-sourced student inquiry


Medical applications of genetic technology are increasingly important in twenty-first century healthcare. DNA sequencing is becoming an affordable tool for doctors, and gene-based therapies continue to emerge.

During this inquiry task, students become expert in a genetic disease of their choosing. In this context they:

  • explore the biology of genetic disease;
  • investigate the uses and applications of DNA sequencing/profiling
  • evaluate social and ethical implications of medical genetics.

The inquiry takes the form of an evidence-based evaluation of a genetic test (or other technology), looking at risks and benefits including the limitations and social/ethical issues involved. Findings could be assessed as a structured report.

Stimulus materials, resources and activities are also provided that cover the background and develop the necessary skills. 

Syllabus mapping- Australian Curriculum, Biology

This inquiry task addresses elements from all three strands of The Australian Curriculum, Biology, Unit 3:Heredity and continuity of life

Science Inquiry Skills (Biology Unit 3)

Identify, research and construct questions for investigation; propose hypotheses; and predict possible outcomes (ACSBL061)

Interpret a range of scientific and media texts, and evaluate models, processes, claims and conclusions by considering the quality of available evidence, including interpreting confidence intervals in secondary data; and use reasoning to construct scientific arguments (ACSBL065)

Communicate to specific audiences and for specific purposes using appropriate language, nomenclature, genres and modes, including scientific reports (ACSBL067)

Science as a Human Endeavour (Units 3 & 4)

The acceptance of scientific knowledge can be influenced by the social, economic and cultural context in which it is considered (ACSBL070)

People can use scientific knowledge to inform the monitoring, assessment and evaluation of risk (ACSBL071)

Science Understanding (DNA, genes and the continuity of life)

The phenotypic expression of genes depends on factors controlling transcription and translation during protein synthesis, the products of other genes, and the environment (ACSBL081)

Mutations in genes and chromosomes can result from errors in DNA replication or cell division, or from damage by physical or chemical factors in the environment (ACSBL082)

DNA sequencing enables mapping of species genomes; DNA profiling identifies the unique genetic makeup of individuals (ACSBL086)

Title Creator Type ModificationDate
  Inquiry Task Teachers Guide (PDF) Lauren MCKnight File Mar 27, 2019 02:06 PM
  Student Evidence Plan (Word File) Lauren MCKnight File Mar 27, 2019 02:06 PM