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Methods to assess the teaching of bioethics Fumi Maekawa & Darryl Macer.

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Presentation on theme: "Methods to assess the teaching of bioethics Fumi Maekawa & Darryl Macer."— Presentation transcript:

1 Methods to assess the teaching of bioethics Fumi Maekawa & Darryl Macer

2 Some questions of bioethics education… Does education actually work? What impact does education have on the minds of the receivers, and providers? When is the best time? "What is the preferable way to teach bioethics?

3 Method In order to examine these questions, long-term analysis of the homework and comments that students gave in all the bioethics classes, since 1990, in the University of Tsukuba has been conducted.

4 Classes include: 1)Required classes among third year biology students of thirty lectures, once every week. Usually three times a term, students are asked to write a report on some topic in genetics, bioethics and biology. This class started in 1990, and at periods it was among second year students. 2)Optional classes open mainly to undergraduate students, of ten lectures. One is called Bioethics, and the second, Bioethics and Genes. About half the students in the biology program take these courses. Every year there are a few non-biology students who choose to take this lecture. 3)Graduate courses in environmental ethics and bioethics, of 10 lectures, each lecture being 3 hours. Environmental Science students mainly take this course, but it is open to others.

5 Development of analytical methods Sort the photocopies of all homework. The coding for each report is year, class, and report number. For example, 00BG2 will be a Bioethics and Genes class, second report in the year Compare common ideas and thoughts expressed in student reports Personal moral development Thematic comparisons Compare reports with the teaching materials and method used.

6 Results Total number of undergraduate reports Scientific English2055 Bioethics584 Bioethics and Genes463

7 Coding system The following evaluation criteria allow primary analysis of each report. BVBoth sides of view POPersonal vs. other persons view SFScientific facts mentioned or not EBEnvironment & biocentric ideas UVUtilitarian views RRights PKSpecific bioethics principles and keywords NINumber of different ideas in one report

8 Example comments "Animals are life as we are. I think all life should be allowed to live. So I think that they have a right to live. " (R) " I thought my knowing was worth dissecting without consciousness. " (UV) " We have legal rights which shield us from unjust things. Instead of it, we have to fulfill duties. " (PK)

9 Example comments " I dont agree to give animals legal rights. But I think that we should not kill animals uselessly (BV) and it is important we protect the environment. " (EB) " All cells of transgenic animals have injected genes. Injected genes can be expressed in specific tissues with proper promoters. " (SF) " If I were used in such an experiment with no pain, how would I feel? " (PO)

10 Example of one report "We can make an animal that feels no pain, and we use it for experiments. We can suffer pain as the same of all animals. Because of knowing self-pain, we can understand how much animals feel pain. (MI1) And we are uncomfortable seeing animals that feel pain. Is it right that we use animals that feel no pain? I think painless animals are the same as dead animals. When we make animals painless, we kill the animals. (MI2) Animals that feel no pain are not living things. I think of the mistake that we may use this animal or experiment when animals dont feel pain. How much does it matter when I dont feel pain? I would not understand suffering disease. I would not understand injury. I would not understand death. I hate that we think we may use this animal if this animal feels no pain. (MI3) I consider that we must recognize the use of killed animals when we use animals that feel no pain. I think hypocrites use animals that feel no pain. "

11 Bioethical Maturity A person, or a society that can balance the benefits and risks of alternative options, and make well-considered decisions.

12 Individual analysis results example


14 Thematic comparisons Reports with similar themes are analyzed to investigate opinion changes through time, and with teaching materials and methods.

15 Common themes over the decade GM foods When is it ethical to do prenatal diagnosis? Personal views on predictive genetic testing Animal rights and experiments Gene therapy Surrogacy and assisted reproduction Scientific responsibility AIDS Organ transplants and brain death Patenting of biotechnology



18 Animal rights and experiments: Report titles 01E4: My attitude to animal rights(N=27) 01B1: My views on animal rights(N=11) 00E4: We should do animal experiments. Yes or No (N=25) 00B1: What is our responsibility to a 20 year old chimpanzee raised in captivity? (N=22) 99E1: What are the similarities and differences between humans and Chimpanzees?(N=32) 99E3: Should we use pigs and other animals as organ donors? (N=27) 98E4: Should we research on live higher primates if they have a risk to die? (N=38)

19 Animal rights and experiments: Report titles (continued) 95E7: What are the ethical concerns about doing an experiment on a cat that feels no pain? (N=29) 93B3: Animal rights (N=4) 92E9: Ethical scores for animal experiments (N=10) 92B1: Is it OK to breed and farm a fast growing pig made by genetic engineering?(N=20) 91E5: How do you feel about growing animals as bioreactors? (N=20) 91Q4: Do you think science should be able to freely examine anything, and use any living organism as an experimental material?(N=10)

20 Both sides of view expressed (BV) /20 (65%) /29 (79%) /25 (84%) /27 (96%)

21 Rights mentioned (R) 19913/20(15%) /29(34%) 20009/25(36%) /27(89%)

22 Average number of ideas (NI) range range range range 4-9

23 Possible reasons for the trends Title of report Wording of the title seems to shift students reasoning and expression Handout and content of classes Still needs investigation, though expected to influence students more than the report title as a direct source of information. (search for similar ideas and wordings)

24 Conclusions Qualitative analysis of keywords and ideas is more informative of human moral development than mere statistics Multiple factors affect the students expression which may not be isolated and evaluated dogmatically

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