An informal learning model of genetic and genomic education for adult, bilingual learners

September 1st, 2016 - August 31st, 2021 | PROJECT

The overall goal of this project is to develop and evaluate a community model of informal genomic education that is culturally and educationally appropriate for low-literacy Latino adults born in Mexico and Central America (MCA). The community engagement strategy and materials created will be designed to lead to three learning outcomes: increased interest and engagement with genomics, change in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) attitudes and self-identity, and increased understanding about gene function and the human genome. The model created in this project will have the potential to inform other educational efforts, nationally. Semi-structured in-depth interviews will be conducted in Spanish with 60 MCA Latinos to delineate beliefs and knowledge about genetic and genomic concepts and transmission of traits. Interview transcripts will be systematically analyzed to identify explanations about trait transmission, and familiarity with genetic and genomic concepts. Variation in responses across geographic and cultural regions will be noted. Knowledge from this analysis will be used to develop a meaningful community-based learning program about genomics. Lay community educators will facilitate informal learning with MCA adults about genetics and genomics, including gene-environment interactions. This project will use information about environmental exposures (e.g., residential pesticides) as a vehicle to pique participants' interest and illustrate genetic and genomic content. It will compare outcomes for 100 participants who receive practical strategies only to reduce negative and increase positive environmental exposures, respectively, to 100 participants who also receive genetic and genomic content. The strategy and materials will be disseminated through journal articles and presentations at meetings that focus on informal STEM education. The process and content will be rigorously evaluated throughout the project. This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Summative External Evaluation Report for An Informal Learning Model of Genetic and Genomic Education for Adult, Bilingual Learners Project
Nuestra Material Sana (Materials in Spanish)
Our Healthy Family (Materials in English)
2023 AISL Awardee Mini-Poster: 1612616

Team Members

Joanne Sandberg, Principal Investigator, Wake Forest University School of Medicine


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1612616
Funding Amount: $1,066,673.00


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities
Audience: Adults | Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Life science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Public Programs