Towards a More Humane Genetics Education


Frequently Asked Questions

Parent Questions

What process did you go through to get this study approved?

To begin, we submitted a research proposal that included the survey questions and the methods that we are using to protect students to an institutional review board (IRB). The IRB approved this study because its benefits to society outweighed the minimal risks posed by the study. 

What process did you go through to get this study approved at my child’s school?

We went through a thorough and ethical process to bring our study to your child’s school.

To start, we provided the district with a research proposal that outlined our research methods, our IRB approval, and the procedures for informed consent. A copy of our survey questions was included in this district research application. Administrators evaluated this proposal to make their decision about whether to allow our study to proceed in the school district. The district approved the study, and your child’s school principal and science teacher agreed to participate. 

The purpose of the study and specific participation criteria are outlined in detail on our recruitment webpage.

What process did you go through to inform my child about the study and ensure they remain protected? 

At BSCS, we take the protection of children in educational research very seriously. We believe parents have the right to decide whether their child will participate in a research study. Therefore, our informed consent process is rigorous and aligned with guidelines from the federal government and the National Institutes of Health. 

Our researchers gave a presentation to students about the study methods, its risks and benefits, and the principles of anonymity and confidentiality. All students were informed that their participation in the study is optional and that it would have no influence on their grades. Our researchers then led a whole-class discussion to assess whether students comprehended the study methods, risks and benefits, and principles of anonymity and confidentiality. Students were told by BSCS researchers that they can decide to opt out of the study at any time and that they did not have to answer any questions in the surveys that they felt uncomfortable responding to. 

Then, our researchers sent the informed consent letter to parents via email and via a hard copy. The letter outlined all benefits and risks of the study. It also confirmed that no identifying information was being collected that could link a student’s actual identity to their data. Therefore, student anonymity is fully protected through our research process.

Students who assented to the study themselves and who also had parental consent from at least one parent were deemed eligible to participate in the study. 

Will you share the list of student survey questions with parents? 

Since we are currently running the study, we are no longer handing out the questions to anyone except district research coordinators in our participating school districts. 

Once the study is complete, we will provide a final report to the school districts. Parents will be able to see all survey questions in that report. 

Why aren’t you able to share the student survey questions during the study? 

There are several reasons for this decision, and all of them stem from maintaining the integrity of our study and maintaining the safety of students. For example, if a parent/guardian were to view the questions, then they could tell their child how to respond to the survey questions. This would defeat the purpose of our study, as we want to determine how the genetics curriculum influences students’ responses to the survey questions, not how their parents’ opinions shape their responses to such questions. Additionally, putting a student in a situation where they could be told by their parent how to answer a survey question in our study would be unethical if a student was influenced to respond (or not respond) to certain questions in certain ways by their parent/guardian. Finally, we do not share our survey questions while a study is running because we worry that our questions could be mistakenly leaked to other interested and/or unrelated parties, thereby jeopardizing the integrity of our study. This is a critical issue because a study is only worth conducting if it will produce valid knowledge that is a benefit to society. 

However, we are able to release survey questions once the study has concluded. At that point, there will no longer be a risk that someone can jeopardize the ethical nature of our study.

When will you share the results of the study? 

When we finish analyzing the data from our study in 6-12 months, we will create a report that includes a summary of our research questions, research design, survey instruments, and findings. That report will be emailed to all participating schools once our study is published in a scientific journal.