- Teacher: Eleanore B. Sturgill
- Charlottesville, VA
- Subject: Biology I, AP Biology
- Grade Level(s): 9 11 12
- Target Audience: Biology I, AP Biology
- Materials Needed: pencil, paper
- Class Time: varies
- Brief Summary:
Science News, Vol 146, Nov 5, 1994, presented four real cases involving the ethics of DNA testing that were part of a Short Course in Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME, during that summer. Unlike the other cases that my students discuss throughout the year, they can match their arguments and conclusions with experts, whose conclusions were printed in a follow-up article, Vol 146, Dec 17, 1994.
- Student Objective(s):
To apply the principles of ethical decision-making to actual cases, to appreciate that there is usually no one "right" decision, and to compare their conclusions to those of individuals who are in the field.
- Description of Activities:
Early in the year, students are presented with cases that involve difficult decision-making. They use the set of principles agreed upon by experts, autonomy, beneficence, justice, et. al., to reach conclusions. When they are presented with these four cases, they are asked to submit them as if they were sending them to the magazine, as my class actually did in 1994. Discussion of the experts' opinions can be quite heated in some groups, and not always do the students agree with the decisions. The most valuable lesson learned is that there is no one right way for all people.
- Integration (tying it all together):
This process of decision-making is a year-long process and single cases can be inserted into the school year whenever there is time. While actual decisions may not become easier to make even after much practice, the time involved in coming to a conclusion is reduced when the principles are applied.
- Further Information and References:
Fletcher, John C., Ed, Introduction to Clinical Ethics, Center for Biomedical Ethics, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, VA 22908, 1994.
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