Genetic Decision Making Model

Harry H. Harmes
1994 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute


In the society in which students and adults live, the need to think and to make the right decisions is of utmost importance. Students are faced with decisions about peers, drugs, driving habits, education (grades), jobs, sex, etc. every day. As they become older adults, they will be faced with decisions about children, money, jobs, elderly parents, etc. At the different levels of maturity, it is the hope that decisions will be made on values that are proper for society as well as the individual. When it comes time to make that decision, and if there is a conflict in making that decision based on values and morals, it is hoped that "what ought I do" to make the best possible decision be considered. By using a decision making model, students will learn to stop and think and then make the decision based on the values they hold.

One of the many "value" issues facing society is the rapid advancement of biotechnology. With genetic engineering, it is becoming possible to engineer everything from the way an organism looks, to the food they eat, to medicine they require, to the production of their offspring. So, this activity will have students look at their "I values" and work through a decision making model based on a genetic issue.

Teacher Procedure:

Different genetic case studies are being provided . Encourage students to use one of the case studies. However, don't be surprised when they use a conflict they are facing. It is very important that each student start with and have time to do the "I value" list. Some class time would be appropriate for this. Students will probably select "I values" which they will feel comfortable in doing i.e., being liked. Their phrase of explanation is usually short and simple. So, encourage them to expand beyond the very basic. Then, present the case study and the decision model. The decision model is to be completed by each student. Give some time in class to start. However, most of this should be done as homework when they have quiet time to reflect. Select some point value for each section to encourage participation. Grade for completion - not right or wrong! A discussion period after completion is always appropriate and interesting. After completion of the decision making model, the module on bioethical debate would be an excellent activity for further performance assessment.

I Value Worksheet

The following is a list of "I values". Cross out those values that have no meaning for you. Add others that do have meaning for you. Add a phase, expressing what each means to you for each "I value" you select.
Self-worth Harmony
Food/Warmth/Shelter Friendship
Recreation Self-preservation
Work/Labor Relaxation
Solitude Ownership
Prestige Truth/Wisdom
Being Liked Success
Justice Self-confidence
Sensory Pleasure Self-control
Empathy Discover
Equity/Rights Self-assertion
Curiosity Personal Health
Creativity Security
Being Self Power/Authority
Honesty Wholeness
Education Interdependence
Service Cooperation
Simplicity Work/Divine Knowledge
Beauty/Aesthetics Tools/Technology
Human Dignity Family/Belonging

Bioethical Decision Making Model Worksheet

"What Ought I do"

I. Identify the problem:

A. Write a short paragraph telling why this problem creates a conflict for you.

B. Using the "I value" list, write down 5 values you hold that are involved in this conflict.

C. In the column on the right of your values (above), rank those values with #1 being most important and #5 being least important to you.

II. List as many solutions to the problem as you can. Include solutions that do not necessarily agree with your values. (minimum of 5)

III. Rank the above, #1 being your first choice solution.

IV. List 8 "I values" that support your #1 solution.

V. What solution did you rank last?

Identify 5 "I values" that caused this last place ranking.

VI. Write down your first choice solution again.

A. List probable consequences if this solution were implemented.

List reasons why others may not agree with you.

VII. How confident are you that your solution will work?


The model was developed from a model provided by Dr. Jon Hendrix at Ball State University.

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