Teaching the Genome Generation: Cultivating High School Genomics through Teacher Education

  • Project Description

    Teaching the Genome Generation (TtGG) is a professional development (PD) course in genomics paired with academic-year classroom and laboratory support. The Jackson Laboratory’s (JAX) TtGG program meets NIH’s goals for broader societal impact by increasing genomic and health literacy of a diverse audience of pre-service STEM educators who will be teaching the future scientific workforce. TtGG will deliver integrated training in genomics, bioinformatics and bioethics by leveraging core areas of the Laboratory’s demonstrated expertise in genetics research, genomics and STEM education. Our program is innovative and significant because it weaves together molecular genetics lab demonstrations, bioinformatics activities that incorporate mathematics, statistics, and data literacy, and bioethics lessons that bring focus to societal implications of advances in genetic and genomic technology, into an integrated curriculum of cross-disciplinary lessons. Our curriculum will be used for both in-person and online PD modalities, broadening the reach of our program to STEM educators across the nation and globe.

    TtGG will address all three new areas of SEPA programmatic interest (PAR-20-153). First, we will adapt ‘our successful SEPA program with new populations’: pre-service STEM teachers. Second, the proposed program will provide innovative lessons and modules ‘where participants have access to research-generated data, that will train students for informatics, bioinformatics, data science careers’. Third, our new modules will embed ‘math and reading content’, targeting high school students to reinforce fundamental math skills. The TtGG program will accomplish our goals through two central aims:

    1. Executing a new preservice teacher professional development program and;
    2. Developing innovating genetics and genomics modules that align to NGSS and reinforce mathematics and data science skills.

  • Abstract

    The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) proposes a teacher education initiative, ‘Teaching the Genome Generation’ (TtGG), to provide pre-service high school teachers the content knowledge, teaching strategies, and resources needed to enhance student learning in genomics, bioethics, and bioinformatics, with an emphasis on math and data literacy. Our pre-professional development program will provide instruction in the molecular genetics of personalized medicine, use of bioinformatics tools, incorporating statistics and data analysis, and discussion of the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) surrounding genetics research. In collaboration with partners in higher education, up to 32 pre-service teachers per year will participate in a hands-on short course. Pre-service teachers will also have the opportunity to engage with and practice teaching our curriculum through instructional methods coursework and student teaching/internships. Our innovative approach weaves three learning strands—molecular genetics, bioinformatics and bioethics—together within the context of the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Math Standards. The TtGG team will expand dissemination of our content and short course through significant enhancement of our online resources. A pilot online course will be launched in late 2020, and a full online program with additional resources accessible through a newly designed TtGG public facing website will be completed and released by the first quarter of 2022. To evaluate the impact of the short course, evaluators will administer pre and post surveys to pre-service teacher participants on genetics, genomics and bioinformatics content knowledge, teacher self-efficacy, and confidence. Evaluators will also conduct small scale efficacy studies to examine the impact of the TtGG materials on students’: a) content knowledge of genetics, genomics, and applications of mathematics; b) confidence engaging in genomics concepts, lab activities, and math problems; c) interest in engaging in additional genomics-related behavior, including academic and career pursuits; and d) ability to explain how and why math skills are required for practicing life sciences. By training pre-service educators, TtGG will execute on NIH’s goal of strengthening the future STEM workforce through increasing genomic and health literacy.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    An online professional development course has been released and is freely available on the jax.org/ttgg website. Additionally, curricular resources, including lesson plans, will be made publicly available through a JAX supported website, enhancing the user experience, making navigation to lessons and resources more intuitive. TtGG resources will be publicly available to teachers and students, rather than available only to teachers within the existing PD network. A private site for teacher guides/answer keys will also be available.
    We will build out and enhance our public YouTube series called “Genomics and Genetics Career Chats” (GGCC). The GGCC will be regularly scheduled video interviews showcasing the diversity of skills and opportunities in the biomedical workforce. Our goal is to highlight the array of genetics, genomics, and biomedical STEM careers available. We cover a breadth of careers including research scientist and advanced positions, research assistants, genetic counselors, and bioinformatics analysts. The GGCC interviews will be gender balanced and will celebrate successes of diverse scientists and STEM professionals.

    We will continue to implement tested and successful dissemination efforts, including meetups, email newsletters, and the JAX Open House, and develop new methods tailored to new audiences. Annual in-person TtGG teacher meet-ups will allow us to re-engage our alumni teachers and will provide an opportunity for pre-service or newly certified teachers to learn from in-service teacher colleagues, interact with the TtGG team, and continue to practice TtGG skills. Email newsletters will continue to help us disseminate information and resources to network preservice and in-service teachers, including those who only utilize online resources and who we may never meet in person. Through email newsletters we can inform teachers of JAX opportunities (e.g. annual JAX college scholarship), TtGG program announcements (e.g. DNA Day essay contest) and news in the genetics community. Our enhanced online presences will allow JAX and other TtGG partners to promote research education activities using our active social media sites including Instagram (@jaxlab), Twitter (@jacksonlab, @JAX_Education, @pgEdorg, and @geneticssociety) and Facebook to communicate SEPA-funded science to a global, public audience.Our enhanced online presences will allow JAX and other TtGG partners to promote research education activities using our active social media sites including Instagram (@jaxlab), Twitter (@jacksonlab, @JAX_Education, @pgEdorg, and @geneticssociety) and Facebook to communicate SEPA-funded science to a global, public audience.

Project Audience

Pre-service high school teachers and in-service high school teachers.

Subjects Addressed

Genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, data literacy, bioethics, statistics and probability.

Associated SEPA Project(s)