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Why Do We Have to Learn This Stuff?”—A New Genetics for 21st Century Students

  • Rosemary J. Redfield mail

    redfield@zoology.ubc.ca

    Affiliation: Department of Zoology, Life Sciences Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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  • Published: July 03, 2012
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001356

Reader Comments (24)

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A Textbook Author Comments

Posted by MFSanders on 26 Jul 2012 at 23:06 GMT

Many thanks to Dr. Redfield for her energy, innovation and determination to change how genetics is taught. As author Ricki Lewis commented, I too want to applaud Dr. Redfield and all the instructors who deliver their enthusiasm and creative thought about genetics to their students.

As the lead author, with John L. Bowman, of Genetic Analysis: An Integrated Approach (2012, Pearson Education) I have recently been through the processes of deciding how to cover genetics in my textbook and adapting my ideas to meet the many and conflicting comments from dozens of peer reviewers. I agree completely with the comments of Ricki Lewis indicated, this is a difficult line to walk and whatever one decides to do, the final result will not please everyone.

In the case of our book, my coauthor and I developed several innovative features and approaches, but not all of them appear in the textbook. Simply stated, while often praised for the pedagogy they displayed, certain innovations we proposed met with stiff resistance from our peers who said they simply couldn't see how to teach in this way to their students and thus would not be inclined to use the book. The reality is that authors who don't listen to their market don't get their books into print or their books don't live to see a second edition. So, we heeded the peer advice.

Fortunately, however, digital technology offers a way creative and innovative instructors a way around this authors dilemma that can bring creative teaching approaches to life. My publisher and others offer instructors the option of "custom publishing". Even for small programs, custom publishing gives instructors the chance to assemble a customized publication just for thewir students. There are three common formats to choose from. First, an instructor can use just the portion of a textbook desired and no more. For example, if an instructor wanted to use 15 of the 22 chapters from our textbook, that's all they would have to order and that's all the students buy. Second, if an instructor wanted to use some chapters from our textbook and those from another textbook by the same publisher, such a custom publication can be assembled. Lastly, and perhaps best of all, an instructor could use selected chapters from our genetics textbook and could supplement them with material the instructor writes or assembles himself or herself. All of it is printed as a single package.

There is much inspiration brought to the classroom by creative instructors and it should be encouraged. New textbooks like ours can address some of the need for change, but change that will inevitably happen slowly. I encourage those with the desire to do so to channel their creative energy into a custom publication that fits your needs and those of your students.

Competing interests declared: I am the lead author, with John L. Bowman, of Genetic Analysis: An Integrated Approach, 2012, Pearson Education.