Determining human genetics course content needed by general studies students in higher education and by the lay population

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Hines, Dick
Hendrix, Jon R.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
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The problem investigated was whether the human genetics content taught in higher education institutions throughout the United States correlates with the needs of the lay population, general studies students, and with the content offered in the human genetics courses at Ball State University. Questionnaires were sent nationwide to faculty who teach human genetics to determine the content currently being taught. Another form of the questionnaire was sent to a population of genetic counselors to determine the needs of the lay population concerning human genetics content. Additional data were collected from faculty of human genetics courses at Ball State University.Results and ConclusionsThe content of a typical human genetics course was determined from data obtained from the faculty questionnaire. The content needed in a human genetics course to produce a genetically literate lay population was determined from the data obtained from genetic counselors. The data obtained from the two populations were analyzed. Significant differences between the populations in recommended content for a human genetics course were found. These differences included variationsin: time allotments devoted to specific topics, inclusions of specific human genetics diseases/defects, and the teaching approach (i.e., faculty use various human genetics diseases/defects to emphasize the mode of transmission whereas genetic counselors stress the clinical aspects).Using the combined data obtained from both populations, the content of a model human genetics course was profiled. Topics included in the course, time allotments (mean of means), genetic diseases/ defects, and the teaching approach were determined.RecommendationsFaculty developing a human genetics course could use the model human genetics profile as a guide. However, the content in a human genetics course should be adapted to the students' needs.An additional study to determine the factors which genetic counselors consider when determining the importance of a genetic disease/defect, would be helpful.Since the knowledge base in human genetics is rapidly increasing, this study should be repeated every two or three years to maintain validity of the model profile.