At a Glance


  • Biology
  • Health science

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • 101-NYA
  • 101-SN1

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Group

Type of Tasks

  • Discussing
  • Analyzing
  • Creating & designing

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • PowerPoint

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Inclusivity & Accessibility

  • Variety of representations

Instructional Purpose

  • Application & knowledge building
  • Consolidations & metacognition


The aim of this activity is for students to apply their learning of genetic inheritance to a new situation, by creating a genetic analysis tool called a Pedigree chart. Students would have already learned general genetics and inheritance, as well as Mendelian genetic patterns before this activity.

Pedigree charts will be introduced by presenting the limitations of studying human genetics patterns. How can we study human genetics patterns when humans do not produce hundreds of offsprings, such as fruit flies and pea plants, and cannot be ethically subject to targeted breeding?

As students work together to build Pedigree charts, they will also develop problem solving, collaborative and critical thinking skills. In this activity, students are introduced via lecture to Pedigree charts as a tool for studying Mendelian inheritance patterns in humans after which they are each assigned a fake genetic identity. They must find their family members from among the other students and then together construct a family Pedigree chart using the provided information.

Finally, they determine the likely pattern of inheritance. Spanning one 80 minute in-class session, this activity draws from the problem-based learning approach.

Instructional Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Build a pedigree chart using specific pieces of information about individuals.
  • Analyze multi-generational pedigree charts to propose the most likely pattern of inheritance.

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

  • Allows students to work collaboratively.
  • Engages students by building and interpreting the inheritance pattern from a pedigree chart.
  • Encourages an inclusive classroom environment as pedigree analysis includes different gender identities, sexes, and culturally diverse names.
  • Students could struggle to build the Pedigree chart. Incorporating the presentation on what a pedigree chart is and how to build one can help to mitigate this potential challenge.
  • If time is an issue, shorten the gallery walk task or provide it as review/practice outside of class (give students images of charts).
  • Ideal if each group has some space in the classroom and a dry-erase board and markers to work with.
  • For the gallery walk task, have students individually try to determine the inheritance patterns of the other two charts. No further hints are provided.
  • For the gallery walk, since the answers are erased, students won’t be able to know if they figured out the correct pattern. This is okay as it will be discussed during the wrap-up.

Applied Strategies