Health care providers will increasingly use a patient’s genome to diagnose and treat disease. Unfortunately, high school students are under-prepared as future consumers of genomic medicine. We will provide high school science teachers the skills and resources to improve genomics instruction, encourage students to pursue STEM careers and enhance student understanding of genomics and health.
The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) proposes a national teacher professional development (PD) initiative, ‘Teaching the Genome Generation’ (TtGG), to provide high school teachers the content knowledge, teaching strategies, and resources needed to enhance student learning in genomics, bioinformatics and bioethics. Up to 48 teachers per year will participate in hands-on short courses at JAX campuses in Bar Harbor, Maine, Farmington, Connecticut, and Sacramento, California. Professional development courses at JAX will provide instruction in the molecular genetics of personalized medicine, use of bioinformatics tools, and discussion of the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) surrounding genetics research. Teachers will partner with TtGG staff, including a genomics education specialist and teacher peer-to-peer coordinator, and will collaborate with each other to deliver lessons designed for their unique biology classes and school environment. ELSI lesson plans and discussion frameworks are provided through partnership with the Personal Genetics Education Program within the Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School. Our innovative approach weaves three learning strands, molecular genetics, bioinformatics and ELSI together with the Next Generation Science Standards. Participating teachers will be supported with laboratory instrumentation, reagents, and consumable supplies during the academic year. The TtGG project team includes teachers and education partners and will provide online and in person support for implementation of curricular modules across a range of rural and urban high schools. TtGG will build upon over-enrolled July 2014 (16 teachers) and July 2015 (28 teachers) pilot courses. In the 2014-2015 academic year 7 teachers at 6 schools implemented TtGG curricular elements across in Maine. Over 3,700 high school students per year will receive new genomics instruction when TtGG is fully implemented across three states. In order to measure impact of PD, Rockman et al and JAX will administer pre-and post- PD tests and surveys to measure teacher content knowledge and confidence. The evaluation plan will employ a delayed treatment design to compare the knowledge and confidence of teachers who complete the PD short course against those who did not. Finally, a summative evaluation will measure the success of TtGG dissemination by testing student knowledge and surveying student interests in genomics, comparing students who completed the TtGG curriculum to students who completed a similar genomics unit.