Detectives in the Classroom


Pilot and Field-Testing in New Jersey School Districts

Detectives in the Classroom was pilot-tested in the Montclair NJ School District and pilot- and field-tested in the Paterson NJ School District. See "Partnerships" for more details about the schools, administrators, teachers, and students involved.

Published Field-Test Results

Kaelin MA, Huebner WW, Nicolich MJ, Kimbrough ML. (2007) Field Test of an Epidemiology Curriculum for Middle School Students. American Journal of Health Education; 38(1):16-34.

Empirical evidence of the benefits of teaching epidemiology to children is in early stages. To test the short-term effectiveness of a epidemiology curriculum called Detectives in the Classroom, we performed a quasi-experiment among 7th graders in an urban school district with 378 experimental students and 620 controls. Analysis of covariance of pre- and post-test scores examined five outcomes: self-reported abilities in science as inquiry and scientific literacy, interest in science, knowledge of epidemiology principles and methods, and epidemiological reasoning ability. Compared to controls, the experimental group had higher average post-test improvements in epidemiology-related outcomes and smaller increases in the other measures. An exposure-response was suggested by higher scores among students exposed to 10 or more lessons compared to students exposed to fewer lessons. Although a single, short-term field test is far from definitive about impact, the results were in a positive direction, consistent, and suggest a dose response. But improvements were mixed and not of large magnitude.

Evaluation of Teacher Responses

We evaluated teachers' responses to Detectives in the Classroom in two ways: with an adaptation of Smithsonian/The National Academies'National Science Resource Center's "Evaluation Criteria for Curricular Materials" and with Report and Reflections. Click Here to view the form that we used.