There is a need to improve scientific literacy in the United States. The behaviors that comprise scientific literacy are inherent in the National Science Education Standards (NSES) fundamental abilities in Science as Inquiry. These abilities can be effectively taught through the science of epidemiology using issues that capture the interest of students. This project will develop and test five epidemiology-based instructional modules that explore specific health-related issues that are relevant to middle school students in urban areas. The modules called “Detectives in the Classroom” will be designed to improve performance of NSES fundamental abilities in Science as Inquiry and Science and Technology and to increase their interest in science. The modules will be created and refined in partnership with an advisory board of teachers and health professionals. As part of module development the middle school teachers who are members of the board will pilot-test the prototypes with their students. Prototypes will be refined based on this experience and the advice of the board. After Institutional Review Board approval the prototype modules will be field-tested by a field-testing team consisting of 20 science teachers from middle schools that are members of the New Jersey Network for Educational Renewal. These schools will be randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. Teachers from the team’s 10 experimental schools will be trained to teach the modules and will implement them in their classes. Evaluations by the team and their students will assess students’ performance of the NSES fundamental abilities. The impact of the modules on students’ interest in science will be assessed with a pre-post test comparison between the “Detectives” students and an untreated control group using the Attitudes Toward Science Inventory. Final revisions will take into account the above assessments the continuing consultation by the advisory board and review by the CDC Epidemilogy Program Office. Upon completion the modules will be posted on a “Detectives in the Classroom” website and linked to the CDC Excellence in Curriculum Integration through Teaching Epidemiology website.
This project develops and tests five epidemiology-based instructional modules called “Detectives in the Classroom” designed to improve students’ fundamental abilities in science as inquiry and to increase their interest in science. The modules will be created and refined in partnership with an advisory board of teachers and health professionals field-tested by a team of 20 middle school teachers and reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemiology Program Office staff. Upon completion the modules will be posted on a “Detectives in the Classroom” website and considered for linkage to the CDC Excellence in Curriculum Integration through the Teaching Epidemiology website.