Teaching the Genome Generation: Professional Development for Genomics Instruction in Rural and Urban High Schools

  • Project Description

    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.

  • Abstract

    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 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. 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.

  • 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, and 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 for 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 scientists and advanced positions, research assistants, genetic counselors, and bioinformatics analysts. The GGCC interviews will be gender balanced and will celebrate the 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 presence 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 presence 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.

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Project Photos

On location at Lincoln Academy in Lincoln Maine, The Jackson Laboratory speaks with science faculty, Matt Buchwalder on the successes with Teaching the Genome Generation, a new educational program that highlights genetic education.

Project Audience

High school life sciences teachers

Subjects Addressed

Genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, ELSI

Associated SEPA Publication(s)

Associated SEPA News