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Human Inheritance
Administration Procedures
Grades 9-12 Performance Task
Contributed by: The State University of New York
The State Education Department, Albany, New York (NYSED)
1996 Administration


Students apply knowledge of genetics to the occurrence of traits on a family tree. The students will use their knowledge and understanding of classic Mendelian genetics to analyze a given family tree and describe depicted genotypes, dominant and recessive traits, and sex-linked characteristics.

The task assesses students' abilities to apply their knowledge and understanding of Mendel's Laws of Heredity by interpreting data and applying associated math skills. Students are also asked to demonstrate their abilities to generalize and infer given specific genetic information.

This is a "paper/pencil" task designed to take students approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Life Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Genetics and molecular biology; Patterns of inheritance

Performance Expectations:

  • formulating conclusions from investigational data
  • applying scientific principles to develop explanations and solve new problems

National Science Education Standards:

12 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 9-12
1.4 Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence. Student inquiries should culminate in formulating an explanation or model. Models should be physical, conceptual, and mathematical. In the process of answering the questions, the students should engage in discussions and arguments that result in the revision of their explanations. These discussions should be based on scientific knowledge, the use of logic, and evidence from their investigation. 12ASI1.5 Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models. This aspect

8 C LS 2: Reproduction and Heredity: Grades 5-8
2.4 Hereditary information is contained in genes, located in the chromosomes of each cell. Each gene carries a single unit of information. An inherited trait of an individual can be determined by one or by many genes, and a single gene can influence more than one trait. A human cell contains many thousands of different genes.

2.5 The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits. Some traits are inherited and others result from interactions with the environment.

(Use the "hot" link on the PALS home page to check the full text of related National Science Education Standards, if desired.)

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades 9-12 l. understand the meaning of measurement data and categorical data, of univariate and bivariate data, and of the term variable

DAP4: Understand and apply basic concepts of probability:
Grades 9-12 j. understand the concepts of conditional probability and independent events
Grades 9-12 k. understand how to compute the probability of a compound event

PS2: Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts:
Grades 9-12

CNX3: Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics:
Grades 9-12

General Instructions to the Teacher:

Prior to administering this test students should have had an opportunity to learn about Gregor Mendel's experiments with pea plants and his resulting Laws of Heredity. They should be familiar with common symbols used to represent gender and the occurrence of specific traits in an illustrated family tree. Terms used include: dominant/recessive, genotype, sex-linked traits, and X/Y chromosomes. Students should also be familiar with determining the probability of the expression of a specific trait in offspring given the genotypes of the parents.

Materials for Human Inheritance:

At this station students should have:

Only a worksheet (part I & II) is needed for each student.

Advance Preparation:

None is required.


  • Be careful.
  • Teachers and students should always exercise appropriate safety precautions and utilize appropriate laboratory safety procedures and equipment when working on science performance tasks.


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