According to the report "Science Education for Responsible Citizenship" published by the European Commission in 2015, the teaching of sciences should emphasize the reflective capacity of the citizens to capacitate them to debate on the benefits and risks surrounding scientific discoveries. In the same line, the Departament d’Ensenyament de la Generalitat de Catalunya highlights in its report "Competències bàsiques de l'Àmbit cientificotecnològic" the importance of competences such as the resolution of daily life problems by applying scientific reasoning or the capacity to reflect on scientific controversies. In addition, this need has also been underlined by the teachers of the network of pilot schools of the Xplore Health, who positively valued the resources of the portal to promote reflective thinking skills around bioethical, legal and social aspects of the research topics covered by the portal.
In each of the Xplore Health modules, you can find videos that introduce different ethical, legal and social aspects of biomedical research and different dialogue games that allow students to reflect and exchange their opinions on the different topics.
The first type of resources, which are the videos on ethical aspects linked to biomedical research, introduce controversial questions that are discussed by experts inviting students to reflect and give their opinions. For example, in the module on HIV virus and AIDS two researchers and a patient talk about the difficulties faced by people infected with the virus to follow antiretroviral treatment or the effectiveness of prevention programmes. Another example is in the obesity module, where young people and doctors talk about medical, social and economic implications of this epidemic.
The dialogue games are divided into two different typologies: the PlayDecide games and the Discussion Continuum games. In the first type of games, students are organised in groups and discuss about information, testimonies and simulated cases. After a deep reflection, they are invited to reach a consensus on a common opinion. For example, the orphan drugs game raises issues such as the rights of people with rare diseases or the social and economic profitability of developing treatments for them. Another example is the game on malaria in which students reflect on the social, cultural and economic aspects that make this disease so prevalent in the poorest countries, although it that can be treated and cured.
On the other hand, the Discussion Continuum games are designed in a way that prompts debate by making students express their level of agreement or disagreement with certain statements about ethical and controversial issues, as well as explaining the reasoning behind their decisions. For instance, in the game at the mental health module, students reflect on statements regarding the diagnostic criteria of ADHD and the attitude of some parents who pressure specialists to diagnose their children. Another example is the posing questions such as who should have access to our genetic profile and how personalized medicine should be financed.
In the same way, the website also includes a list of teaching guides and documents for teachers with background information written by experts in bioethics. These are intended to facilitate the implementation of these resources in secondary schools by promoting the cooperative learning, the formative evaluation and the interaction of students with other societal actors. The Xplore Health team encourage you to take advantage of all the resources to incorporate reflection on the ethical, legal and social aspects of biomedical research into your teaching, promoting the critical spirit of the students.