Effect of a Forensic DNA testing module on Adolescents' Ethical Decision-Making Abilities

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Science Teachers Asscn


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


School of Education




Dawson, V. (2003). Effect of a forensic DNA testing module on adolescents' ethical decision-making abilities. Australian Science Teachers Journal, 49(4), 12. Available here


The aim of this study was to evaluate the extent to which a forensic DNA testing module with an explicit ethics component improves 14-15 year old students' understanding of DNA testing and their ability to resolve and justify an ethical dilemma. The module was trialed with Year 9/10 students in three Western Australian schools. Using an interpretive case study approach, the impact of the module on students' ethical decision making was evaluated through semi-structured interviews with the teachers and 11 students. A total of 123 students completed a written ethical dilemma case study before and after completing the module. The students' responses and reasons before and after completing the module were categorised and compared. The data suggests that although students' ethical decisions do not change, they are more likely to use their increased understanding of forensic DNA technology to justify their decision after they have studied the module.