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Table 4.
Examples of student constructed responses and scoring against rubric.
Question 1: Explain how variation arises in a population.
Student ResponseMutationRandomTotal% Ideal Response
Variation arises due to the appearance of recessive traits when the right genetic makeup is achieved. 0% 
Genetic mutations occur in an individual, which then may or may not pass on to offspring. 50% 
Variation arises through random mutations or natural selection. 100% 
Question 2: Imagine that a new life form was just discovered on another planet. It is not made up of cells, nor does it contain DNA. What characteristics of this life form would be necessary in order for it to evolve? Explain your reasoning. 
Student Response Inheritance Variation Selection Total % Ideal Response 
The life form would have to be made up of some kind of matter. If the matter has the ability to change, the life form can evolve. 0% 
Reproduction that allows for a mixing of genetic material so that weak and strong characteristics can emerge and natural selection can occur 33% 
Genetic information that is passed on. Reproduces. Mutations occur. Respond to environment. 67% 
It would need a replication system that isn't perfect, or random changes in whatever code it does use, this would allow for variation. It would also need to have some forms more fit for the environment than others in order to select for good or bad mutations. These two things would be enough for evolution: changes occur that make some things better/worse, and the environment is harsh and weeds out the worse ones. 100% 
Question 1: Explain how variation arises in a population.
Student ResponseMutationRandomTotal% Ideal Response
Variation arises due to the appearance of recessive traits when the right genetic makeup is achieved. 0% 
Genetic mutations occur in an individual, which then may or may not pass on to offspring. 50% 
Variation arises through random mutations or natural selection. 100% 
Question 2: Imagine that a new life form was just discovered on another planet. It is not made up of cells, nor does it contain DNA. What characteristics of this life form would be necessary in order for it to evolve? Explain your reasoning. 
Student Response Inheritance Variation Selection Total % Ideal Response 
The life form would have to be made up of some kind of matter. If the matter has the ability to change, the life form can evolve. 0% 
Reproduction that allows for a mixing of genetic material so that weak and strong characteristics can emerge and natural selection can occur 33% 
Genetic information that is passed on. Reproduces. Mutations occur. Respond to environment. 67% 
It would need a replication system that isn't perfect, or random changes in whatever code it does use, this would allow for variation. It would also need to have some forms more fit for the environment than others in order to select for good or bad mutations. These two things would be enough for evolution: changes occur that make some things better/worse, and the environment is harsh and weeds out the worse ones. 100% 
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