This project is designed to nationally disseminate a successful hands-on science implementation model which has been developed and field-tested in St. Louis area high schools for seven years. Modern Genetics For All Students is a fourteen week activity-intensive investigative curriculum unit combining strong scientific content with hands-on investigations and human health applications. The curriculum materials were created and implemented by a partnership of Washington University faculty learning specialists and teachers at four St. Louis area high schools. This unit aimed at enhancing scientific literacy among high school students of all learning levels and socioeconomic environments represents a significantly higher level of hands-on involvement for students than is found in traditional biology classrooms. It provides hands-on activities student problem solving and group projects allowing students to explore modern genetic concepts as well as the relevance of current biotechnology and medical research to human health issues. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of student knowledge gains and improvements in student attitudes towards science and personal health show the curriculum to be effective with all student levels and also with females and underrepresented minorities. Evaluation of our field-testing model has identified three factors which are essential for the success of hands-on intensive science in the classroom: teacher content training provision of materials in classroom-ready form and strong implementation support during the first year of new curriculum use. Teachers at the local high schools indicate that this model has not only enabled them to improve their current teaching strategies but also to establish an internal support network which will sustain itself after the current grant period. Our continuing evaluation results indicate that this project provides a model which could be used to implement any hands-on investigative scienc curriculum in a way that creates sustainable change within schools. The development of a replication manual which carefully describes the key factors responsible for the continuing success of this project will allow science education partnerships nationwide to replicate an efficient and sustainable implementation model for the use of hands-on investigative curriculum in a variety of classroom environments.
This project is aimed at increasing scientific literacy in human genetics and modern molecular biology among high school students from all learning levels by providing dissemination of the curriculum enhancement program “Modern Genetics for All Students.” Washington University biology faculty science writers and high school teachers have collaborated to develop and field-test a curriculum unit of traditional genetics integrated with modern molecular biology and human health information for ninth and tenth grade students. Initially four local high schools representing urban suburban and rural environments were selected to field test the unit. Since implementation the program has grown from four to 22 high schools maintaining the same urban suburban and rural mix. Each year four new schools are added. The unit is being used by biology students at all levels (honors general biology and life science) participating in at least 12 weeks of activities. We believe that a basic foundation of genetic knowledge and awareness of bioethical issues will provide students with the resources to make better informed health care choices. Hands-on activities student problem solving and group projects allow students to explore modern genetics concepts as well as the relevance of current biotechnology and medical research to health issues. The unit activities have been extensively tested and evaluated in every classroom at the participating schools. Statistical evaluation of both student knowledge gains and improvements in student attitudes towards science and health show the curriculum to be effective with all student levels and also with females and underrepresented minorities. Our field-testing model has identified three factors which are essential for the success of hands-on intensive science in the classroom: teacher content training provision of materials in classroom-ready form and strong implementation support during the first year of curriculum use. Teachers at te local high schools indicate that this model has enabled them to both improve their current teaching strategies and also establish an internal support network which will sustain itself after the first year. All but the four newest schools purchase the basic consumable materials used in the unit. The consumables for new schools are supplied free of charge for the first two years that they are in the program.