STARNET - University of Washington Department of Genome Sciences

  • External evaluation of University of Washington’s Department of Genome Sciences Education Outreach project
  • Focuses on ethical and social implications of genetic research
  • Provided data to refine materials and test effectiveness on student learning and attitude
  • Funding source: National Institute on Drug Abuse and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, subcontract from University of Washington

BSCS served as the external evaluator for the StarNet program at the University of Washington's Department of Genome Sciences Education Outreach, which is funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. All schools participating in the project were from districts in the Seattle area. The curriculum and workshop programs focused on a research investigation of the impacts of genetic and environmental factors on smoking behavior. The curriculum also focused on social and ethical implications of genetic research. Teachers took part in a one-week workshop at the University of Washington and then were provided with all of the materials necessary to implement the curriculum with students. A field test of the curriculum "Investigating the Effects of Genes and Environment on Smoking Behavior" took place in early 2007. Coupled with workshop evaluation, evaluation data from the field test gave the authors of the curriculum the support needed to implement changes and refine the materials. In 2008, the evaluation study moved into a summative phase where a quasi-experimental design tested for effectiveness of the materials on student learning and attitudes.

Evaluation questions for the project included:

  1. What changes need to be made to the curriculum materials to ensure successful teacher and student use of the materials in the classroom?
  2. How comfortable and confident are teachers in teaching the concepts in the StarNet materials?
  3. What is the extent of the impact of the curriculum materials on student's content understanding?
  4. How do the use of StarNet curriculum materials impact student knowledge of and attitudes towards biomedical research?
  5. After using the StarNet curriculum materials, are students more likely to consider a career in science?
  6. How does use of the StarNet curriculum impact students' understanding of the ethics of biomedical research?

Click here to learn more about the StarNet Project.