We developed a curriculum consisting of five instructional modules
that explore specific health-related issues relevant to middle school
students through the science of epidemiology. The modules, called
Detectives in the Classroom, prepare students to make personal and
collective, evidence-based health-related decisions. The lessons in
each of the five modules prepare students to answer one of five essential
questions and develop one of five enduring understandings.
The curriculum aligns with the National Science Education Standards'
fundamental abilities in Science as Inquiry and the attributes of scientific
The modules were created and refined in partnership with a multidisciplinary
Advisory Board of teachers and health professionals. As part of module
development, the principal investigator and two middle school teachers
pilot-tested prototypes with their students.
The prototype modules were then field-tested by science teachers from
ten schools that were members of the New Jersey Network for Educational Renewal. The field-testing teachers were trained to teach the modules
and implement them in their classes.
The impact of the modules was assessed by measuring students' abilities
to meet National Science Education Standards and students' interest
in science in a controlled, pre-test / post-test comparison. The prototype
modules were refined further based on the field-testing experiences,
the results of students' assessments, and students' feedback.