Multimedia messages in genetics: Design, development, and evaluation of a computer-based instructional resource for secondary school students in a Tay Sachs disease carrier screening program

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Abstract

Purpose:

Tay Sachs disease is a recessively inherited neurodegenerative disorder, for which carrier screening programs exist worldwide. Education for those offered a screening test is essential in facilitating informed decision-making. In Melbourne, Australia, we have designed, developed, and evaluated a computer-based instructional resource for use in the Tay Sachs disease carrier screening program for secondary school students attending Jewish schools. The resource entitled “Genetics in the Community: Tay Sachs disease” was designed on a platform of educational learning theory.

Methods:

The development of the resource included formative evaluation using qualitative data analysis supported by descriptive quantitative data. The final resource was evaluated within the screening program and compared with the standard oral presentation using a questionnaire. Knowledge outcomes were measured both before and after either of the educational formats.

Results:

Data from the formative evaluation were used to refine the content and functionality of the final resource. The questionnaire evaluation of 302 students over two years showed the multimedia resource to be equally effective as an oral educational presentation in facilitating participants’ knowledge construction.

Conclusion:

The resource offers a large number of potential benefits, which are not limited to the Tay Sachs disease carrier screening program setting, such as delivery of a consistent educational message, short delivery time, and minimum financial and resource commitment. This article outlines the value of considering educational theory and describes the process of multimedia development providing a framework that may be of value when designing genetics multimedia resources in general.

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