The Bioethical Beliefs of College Students Age 18-21 and the Influences That Shaped Those Beliefs

Date of Graduation

Summer 2004


Master of Science in Education in Secondary Education in Biology



Committee Chair

Georgianna Saunders


A survey was developed to describe the bioethical beliefs of non-science major college students, age 18-21, and the influences that shaped those beliefs. Each bioethical topic consisted of two parts: part one of the bioethical topic asked the participants to express their opinion on the issue while part two asked the participants to identify the largest source of information they used in forming their opinion. After a pilot test and revisions, the survey was distributed to 323 non-science major students from Introductory Biology classes. Survey results revealed that students are confused by modern advances in medicine and biotechnology, and they often feel uninformed about the science behind these advances. Participants feel most informed about DNA use in the courtroom, cloning, genetically engineering babies, fertility drugs and embryo adoption, genetic counseling, the right to seek out biological parents, aborting catastrophically ill fetuses, the right to die, and animal testing. Participants feel least informed about stem cell research, gene therapy, in vitro fertilization, having their genetic code read, genetically engineering biological weapons and eating genetically modified foods. The largest three sources of information were cited much more than any other sources. These results indicate that teachers need to incorporate more primary sources into their lessons so that students are taught to extract facts and identify author bias from magazine articles, internet sources, speeches, television programs and newspaper articles.


bioethics, biotechnology, ethics, biology education, technology

Subject Categories

Science and Mathematics Education


© Stephanie A. Blake