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What is epidemiology?
Why is the curriculum called Detectives in the Classroom?
Why develop a curriculum for middle school students?
Five Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings
Concept Map of the Five Essential Questions
Epidemiology Backgrounds
Alignment with the National Science Education Standards
Alignment with Attributes of Scientific Literacy

Five Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings

Detectives in the Classroom is based on pedagogical principles suggested in Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe's text, Understanding by Design. Wiggins and McTighe advocate that curricula can be built by identifying enduring understandings and essential questions. An enduring understanding is a big idea that resides at the heart of a discipline and has lasting value outside the classroom. An essential question is a question that can be answered when the enduring understanding is achieved.

The Detectives in the Classroom lessons develop students' abilities to answer five essential questions and develop the five enduring understandings is described below.


Essential Questions

Enduring Understandings


How is this disease distributed and what hypotheses might explain that distribution?

Health-related conditions and behaviors are not distributed uniformly in a population. Each has a unique descriptive epidemiology that can be discovered by identifying how it is distributed in a population in terms of person, place, and time. Descriptive epidemiology provides clues for formulating hypotheses.


Is there an association between the hypothesized cause and the disease?

Causal hypotheses can be tested by observing exposures and diseases of people as they go about their daily lives. Information from these observational studies can be used to make and compare rates and identify associations.


Is this association causal?

Causation is only one explanation for finding an association between an exposure and a disease. Because observational studies are flawed, other explanations must also be considered.


What should be done when preventable causes of disease are found?

When a causal association has been identified, decisions about possible disease prevention strategies are based on more than the scientific evidence. Given competing values, social, economic, and political factors must also be considered.


Did the disease prevention strategy work?

The effectiveness of a prevention strategy can be evaluated by making and comparing rates of disease in populations of people who were and were not exposed to the strategy. Costs, trade-offs and alternative strategies must also be considered.