Seeking advice on evaluation methods for high school bioethics education

- Vaille Dawson
Science and Mathematics Education Centre,
Curtin University, Hayman Rd., Bentley, 6102, Western Australia
(Email: pdawsonvm@alpha2.curtin.edu.au)


Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 6 (1996), 163.
As part of my Doctoral studies in science education I have been collecting data from teachers in Perth, Western Australia, who are incorporating bioethics education into their science programs. The teachers have taught a Year 10 bioethics unit based on the specific example of human organ and tissue transplantation. In addition to factual information, students are provided with frequent opportunities to clarify and justify their own ethical values as well as appreciate the views of others. Students are also presented with ethical dilemmas and encouraged to identify the issues raised and decide on appropriate courses of action.

The effectiveness of the unit in enabling students to identify and resolve ethical issues is difficult to determine. When students were asked by questionnaire to state the most important thing they had learnt their answers included use of the decision making process, and listening to and valuing the views of others. While this is heartening, I am unsure whether they can actually apply what they have learnt.

I have developed a set of four short vignettes containing ethical dilemmas that will be administered to 180 year 10 students (60 of whom have been exposed to bioethics education), later this year. The students are asked to answer a question related to each vignette and then asked to justify their answer. If any reader has had experience in this area or is aware of any suitable instruments for measuring 'ethical awareness' with this age group (14-15 year olds) I would appreciate any information or advice.


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