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Running head: ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs Addressing The Legal Regulations of Labeling Genetically Modified Organisms in the United States and Analyzing Public health and Farmer Safety Student Sample A George Mason University ENGH302 Dr. Foltz ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs Introduction: Background Genetically modified organisms are organisms such as plants, animals, or microorganisms whose genetic makeup has been modified, in a way that does not occur naturally, in a laboratory using genetic engineering or any kind of biotechnology. It all starts with a modification of a plant’s genetic material such as the removal of genes from the organism’s deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) resulting in the production of GM seeds with properties of the altered genetic material, as discussed by Phillips (2018). The modification of plants (GM crops), animals, and microorganisms has been going on for thousands of years. To prevent crop loss from pest or weather damage and to improve nutrition. In recent years, the production and distribution of GMOs have been a topic of concern to the public. Accordingly, any products that contain GMOs are legally required to be disclosed to the public. GM food products have gone through a rigorous risk assessment however, GM crops individually have not gone through this process to test the nutritional and health safety as revealed by Domingo & Bordonaba (2011) in the Environment International journal. This literature review will cover the effects of genetically modified organisms and the ethical concerns between public health safety as well as the effects of the regulations set upon agriculture and farming. The availability of sources discussing the safety of genetically modified organisms is vastly available. This review will not explore the scientific evidence in this subject however, it will cover the effects of public, environmental/agricultural, and farmer safety of genetically modified organisms. Current legal regulations In the past few decades, the amount of GMO products has increased. The rise of GMO products has initiated regulations that must be in place to provide consumer safety. There is a 2 ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs new law that regulates GMO labeling that was passed and will be in effect in January 2022. The law, “defines bioengineered foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through certain lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature” (Pacumbaba, 2021). The requirements of defining a product as bioengineered under the NBFD standard is, “(A) that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) techniques; and (B) for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature” (2019). The ethics of labeling under NBFD states, “There has been some confusion with the interchangeable use of the terms “Genetically Modified Organism”, “GMO”, “Bioengineered”, and “Genetic Engineering”. This has added to the consumer confusion and anxiety” (Lefebvre et al., 2019). The requirements of the disclosure label that was previously stated are either currently enforced or will be soon. This has the potential to result in countless benefits of GMOs and the effect concerning public health safety only if, the regulations continue to be implemented meticulously on an ethical basis. Despite the improvements made to GMO laws, there is still a lack of ethical implementations set to protect public health and farmer safety. Implementing ethical principles will improve GMO legislation subsequently improving the public’s viewpoint. Body: Implementation of regulations: How GMO effects the public’s view and what are the ethical relations? The topic of labeling genetically modified foods/organisms has been a controversial topic in the past two decades. The reason for this controversy is the ethical concerns and situational judgments of labeling standards set by nutritional professionals. According to the journal of food and science, there are four ethical principles to uphold when food professionals review the 3 ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs mandates set upon GMO food are the following: autonomy, justice, nonmaleficence, and beneficence discussed by Dizon (2015) in the Journal of Food Science. Consumers deserve total autonomy meaning they have the right to know all the necessary details when purchasing food products, especially regarding food labeling. “The FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have legal written standards for labeling the composition and ingredients of foods, but they do not currently have any specific requirements to specify if a product contains a GM byproduct. Without mandatory labeling requirements, food companies can continue selling GM foods those consumers cannot identify, which seemingly goes against the ethical principle of autonomy” (Dizon et al., 2015). Even though the FDA and USDA have mandated the labeling of GMO products, they are not required to label products that do not have a substantial difference in nutritional or safety characteristics. Ethically, regarding public health and safety, this contradicts the ethical principles stated before. Additionally, awareness of GMOs is a big issue regarding the ethical principle of autonomy and beneficence. A survey conducted International Food Information Council (IFIC) found that “33% of respondents believed that biotech food products would benefit them or their families, but 23% of respondents did not know biotech foods had already reached the market” (Phillips, 2018). This survey concludes that the public’s view on GMOs is not entirely negative but, the lack of awareness contributes to the lack of ethical implantations on GMO regulations passed. The ethics and moral consequences of the legislation passed regarding GMOs directly affect the public’s view. Considering the mandated labeling laws and the lack of information given to consumers this affects the public’s view is not entirely negative. Risk assessment: What are the potential benefits and risks of GMOs for consumer health? 4 ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs GMOs have many health benefits and can potentially be the solution to many problems in the United States. A study conducted by Smyth (2019) found that two main groups benefited from the production and consumption of GMOs: consumers mainly the public and farmers. For consumer health, there are many nutritional benefits such as reducing poverty and hunger. As specified in the plant biotechnology journal, “While increased yields have contributed to higher household incomes, which reduce poverty, the increased yields have also enhanced household food security” (Smyth, 2019). Increasing the intake of macronutrients (protein and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and metabolites) results in a significant improvement in the overall health of humans. On a day-to-day basis, an intake of macronutrients and micronutrients over a long period of time will improve immune health. Although an improvement to immune health is needed, however, it is more important to employ the ethical principles stated before. The Journal of Food and Science states, “The ethical principle of justice, in regard to GM foods, is concerned with providing fair and equal access to foods. On top of this principle, solidarity in the context of GM foods is the notion of “collaborative action”, working towards the end of food insecurity in developing nations” (Dizon et al., 2015). The ethical principles of justice and solidarity/ beneficence discussed in the Journal of Food and Science further highlight why consumer health is significantly more important than nutritional enhanced GMOs because the overall distribution of nutritional enhanced GMOs would not be possible without food security. The lack of food security overshadows the health benefits stated previously because, if the GMO products that improve consumer health are not widely accessible the overall population there will not benefit from the product. As long as the ethical principles are upheld the benefits will outweigh the risks of GMO products for consumer health. Risk assessment: How GM crops effect agriculture and farming? 5 ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs The public debate of GMOs involves many high-ranking stakeholders: consumers (public), farmers, government organizations, and scientists. Consumer health and government regulations were discussed formerly therefore, the next topic of concern is farmers. The practice of harvesting GM crops has improved the lives of the farmers. Genetically modified crops, which is a subset of GMOs, are a highly significant technological process that can benefit agricultural, economical, and environmental resources. GMOs and GM crops were mainly produced to address farmers’ needs such as, GM crops that are resistant to plant viruses, insect damages and developed a tolerance to herbicides. GM crops that are resistant to insect damages make it possible for farmers to spray fewer pesticides resulting in less pesticide poising for farm works. According to Domingo & Bordonaba (2011) indicated in their research that GM crops particularly Bt cotton helped significantly reduce pesticide poisoning cases because Bt cotton was genetically modified to reduce the levels of insecticide exposure. This will result in a more successful harvest increasing the agricultural supply leading to high demand. When crops have a high demand it results in lower prices, therefore, increasing the revenue for farmers. Moreover, the popularity of Bt cotton has reduced farmer suicide. The Plant Biotechnology journal written by Smyth (2019) indicated stress related to financial debt and crop frailer is the main contribution to farmer suicide. The success of GM crops has lowered the stress upon farmers resulting in a lower suicide rate. Ultimately, GM crops were created to improve farmers’ lives so, it’s only right for farmers to get the most benefits from it. According to the ethical principles stated previously, farmers benefiting from GM crops abides by the beneficence principle therefore, GM crops have a positive effect on agriculture and farming. Solution: What is the solution? 6 ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs The problem that arises from genetically modified organisms and foods is the lack of ethical premises of current and soon-to-be-implemented regulations. Firstly, the absence of autonomy of customers’ choice when buying GMO products. The reason for the absence of autonomy of customers’ choice is because labeling laws are not mandatory in every state, allowing companies to continue to sell GM food that cannot be identified by consumers. Secondly, the uncertainty of food security and equal distribution of nutritional enhanced GMOs introduces a new problem concerning how to uphold the ethical principles of justice and solidarity/ beneficence. It should be considered how the distribution of a certain nutritional enhanced GMO to a certain location is decided. There are plenty of things that go into determining how best to distribute GMOs to the public in a safe and secure manner. Lastly, farmers’ safety is of the utmost importance in the agricultural industry. Luckily, farmers benefit from GM crops thus, GM crops improve farmers’ lives. Also, this abides by the beneficence ethical principle ensuring that GM crops have a positive effect on agriculture and farming. All of these problems involve the lack of ethical principles implemented in regulations passed by legislators. These regulations are adequate but, can be improved upon. The main soliton is that regulations should be implemented meticulously on an ethical basis and principles. Therefore, if the ethical principles of autonomy, justice, nonmaleficence, and beneficence/ solidarity are followed and considered in the legislative process to establish GMO regulations then the consumer, public and nutritional health will all improve in the United States. Conclusion This literature review covered the effects of genetically modified organisms and the ethical concerns of the regulations and how that affected the public’s view. This review also discussed how farmers benefit from GM crops as well as the benefits of public consumption of 7 ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs GMOs. Ultimately determining that GMOs have a positive effect on the public (consumer), farmers’ health, and safety. However, the public’s view on regulations has negatively impacted the main initiative of genetically modified food and crops. This review has determined that regardless of the countless benefits of GMOs it will never have a positive effect on the public’s view concerning public and farmer health if the regulations continue to not be implemented regarding the ethical principles. 8 ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs References Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2020, September 28). How gmo crops impact our world. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/food/agricultural-biotechnology/how-gmo-crops-impact-our-world. Dizon, F., Costa, S., Rock, C., Harris, A., Husk, C., & Mei, J. (2015). Genetically modified (GM) foods and ethical eating. Journal of Food Science, 81(2). https://doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.13191 Domingo, J. L., & Bordonaba, J. G. (2011). A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants. Environment International, 37(4), 734-742. Federal Register :: National Bioengineered Food Disclosure … federal register. (2019, February 19). Retrieved October 31, 2021, from https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/12/21/2018-27283/nationalbioengineered-food-disclosure-standard. Lefebvre, S., Cook, L. A., & Griffiths, M. A. (2019). Consumer perceptions of genetically modified foods: a mixed-method approach. Journal of Consumer Marketing. Olusegun, O. O., & Olubiyi, I. A. (2017, June). ProQuest | Better Research, Better Learning, better insights. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://www.proquest.com/. Pacumbaba, P. by: R. (2021, January 27). Understanding the GMO bioengineered food labeling law -. Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from 9 ETHICS AND REGULATIONS OF GMOs https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/fruits-vegetables-urban/understanding-the-gmobioengineered-food-labeling-law/. Phillips, T. (2018). Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Transgenic Crops and Recombinant DNA Technology. Nature Education , 1(213). Smyth, S. J. (2019). The human health benefits from GM Crops. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 18(4), 887–888. https://doi.org/10.1111/pbi.13261 10 1 Factors influencing privacy and security concerns in respect to the implementation of electronic health records Student Sample B George Mason University ENGH 302 Dr. Foltz 2 Introduction Big data is a great benefactor in the quality-of-care patients receive; however, Security and privacy concerns continue to escalate, making the widespread adoption of electronic health records difficult. “If we compare data breach statistics of 2019 from those in 2018, we discover an alarming increase in the number of breaches. 421 million records were breached during October 2019. That’s a huge leap from October 2018, during which a mere 44 million records were breached which is almost 10 % of that in 2019” (Varshney et al., 2020, para. 3). Electronic health records (EHRs) are an important tool in the advancement our health system and patient care. By utilizing EHRs, health care providers can cut down the cost of storing physical records, access patients’ information rapidly, share information with other providers, and improve the quality of care (Amato et al., 2021; Chenthara et al., 2019; Farhadi et al., 2018). However, insufficient security protocols and the lack of a unified central network that makes the sharing of information between providers simple, also known as interoperability, makes EHRs vulnerable to threats. Disclosure of confidential patient information, flooding of illegitimate requests that prevents clinicians to access the information as needed, and infecting the electronic system with malware that corrupts stored data are a few of the threats that EHRs are exposed to (Chenthara et al., 2019). The problem, however, is not only due in part to inadequate security mechanisms. While insufficient security protocols play a major role in the lack of protection of medical records, EHRs are most vulnerable to insider threats. “Having given privileged access to sensitive and valuable patient information in the EMR, healthcare employees may cause privacy breaches, which may lead to detrimental consequences” (Rahim et al., 2017, para. 1). As new technology continues to be developed, an immediate need to secure the privacy of patients’ sensitive medical records is crucial to the continued growth and use of EHRs. The purpose of 3 this review is to evaluate existing problems that contribute to the susceptibility of EHRs and the effects it has on the overall health systems, with the intention of finding potential solutions that will mitigate the issue and support the widespread adoption of EHRs. Causes of security and privacy concerns Although privacy and security issues related to EHRs are a subject of many challenges, the security mechanisms associated with this technology are at the very core of this problem. Currently, there are many security mechanisms available in the market that offer protection to various business processes; however, these systems are not tailored to the strict regulations that health providers must follow, nor do they fulfill the immediate needs of healthcare providers in efficiently and effectively servicing patients (Amato et al., 2021). This is due to the complex nature of the data being stored in EHRs and the necessity to quickly access and share this information while keeping patients’ privacy rights in mind. EHRs are susceptible to numerous threats that have dire consequences for both patients and providers alike. EHRs store information in remote servers that are often owned and managed by a third-party. Health providers make requests to the server to access and share information between different providers and users around the globe; therefore, making data susceptible to breaches and other threats (Chenthara et al., 2019). In addition to the technical limitation of EHRs, medical records are vulnerable to threats due to poor oversight of the security software being developed for these systems. The lack of standardization and evaluation by federal agencies has also contributed to the insufficiency to meet health providers requirements. “Medical device manufacturers in the U.S. market are required to comply with federal regulations like quality system regulations (QSRs) however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not conduct premarket testing or 4 evaluations of implemented software on said devices and is even less concerned with it once the hardware has been officially launched into the marketplace” (Hager et al., 2020, para. 1). It is imperative to the efficient use and implantation of EHRs that security mechanisms be developed in congruence with the ethical and legal requirements that health providers are expected to follow. In addition to the current policies that limit the dependability of EHRs in keeping data safe, the most prominent threat comes from employees. According to research by Fiza Rahim (2017), employees largely attributed to the disclosure of patients’ confidential information due to two factors: employees’ unfamiliarity with the applications of EHRs, and the need for employees to share patients’ information to conduct their jobs. “According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), it is the responsibility of healthcare providers to maintain the confidentiality of the health data” (Chenthara et al., 2019, p. 74362). However, HIPAA regulations have remained practically the same since their implementation. As technology and its applications have continued to grow, health providers are finding it more difficult to adhere to these regulations while conducting patient care. A thorough review of existing regulations and the enactment of continuous training are necessary for the effective use of EHRs. In the next section I will discuss the impact that these problems have on the health system and patient’s rights to privacy. The effect on the health system The gaps in securing patients’ sensitive records have had impactful consequences on the quality of care provided and on the health system overall. A compromised electronic health system can lead to a denial-of-service attack (DoS) which occurs when an outside force creates a 5 traffic jam in the system, making it virtually impossible for healthcare providers to access the information they need to care for patients; additionally, a breach of confidential patient information can occur, making health professional liable for violating HIPAA regulations and incurring financial loss as a result (Chenthara et al., 2019). The ramification of these threats has led healthcare providers to be skeptical in investing on EHRs. This prejudice towards EHRs is not only associated to security concerns however, but also due to the harmful effects it has had on employees’ productivity. In addition to the risks of breaching patients’ confidentiality and incurring a financial burden, EHRs have led to an increase of employee burnout. “Electronic health records are not just a speculated source of physician burnout. They’re a direct cause for about 13 percent of providers, according to University of New Mexico researchers who recently examined the effects of EHR implementation and use “. Steger added, “We are losing the equivalent of seven graduating classes of physicians yearly to burnout and, as they leave the profession, they point their finger at the time now required for them to document their work and how it has led to the loss of quality time spent with patients and families” (Steger, 2019). Employees’ duty to follow outdated regulations and exigence from patients to have their information readily available ondemand has attributed to the increase of these numbers. Therefore, future EHRs research must address security mechanisms that satisfy privacy regulations and the capabilities of employees to conduct their duties free of stress. Next, I will analyze how health organizations can adopt new regulations to mitigate the negative impacts of EHRs. Addressing current and future security concerns 6 Development of EHRs that satisfy the health’s systems and federal requirements are dependent on updating current, hindering, policies. A major fault of current EHR systems is their inability to meet privacy regulations established by HIPAA and a lack of standardization in the development of security software. To address this issue of standardization, Hager et al. (2020) indicate, that EHRs would benefit from initiating a new policy that requires all healthcare and medical requirements undergo a systematic evaluation prior to market. This added policy would ensure that healthcare systems, such as EHRs, function adequately and are capable of meeting healthcare processes and security requirements. As for federal regulations, Farhadi et al. (2018) found, that by using a code analysis tool, they were able to get a clear picture of the specific vulnerabilities in EHRs; using this analysis, they were able to compare the vulnerabilities to current HIPAA regulations to evaluate new policies that more closely align to the capabilities of today’s technology. The introduction of these new policies will promote the development stronger security mechanisms that are supported by regulations, rather than limited by them. Minimizing internal threats caused by employees and the associated stress that employees experience as a result, are essential to the proper management of healthcare systems and business operations. Proper understanding of the health systems in use and privacy policies enacted by both federal regulations and health providers are necessary to mitigate the risk of disclosing sensitive information. To ensure that information is being properly managed and shared while prioritizing patients’ right to privacy, providers must ensure that staff is receiving adequate training and education on the very systems and applications that are being used (Rahim et al., 2017). In addition to formal training, future research of EHRs should concentrate on the implementation of assistive technology that captures information for employees. According to 7 the HealthTech article by Jen Miller, “Moving data collection and input out of clinical hands through the adoption of next-gen technologies will ultimately help pave the way for improved quality of care” (Miller, 2019). Advancements in this type of technology address these issues by reducing input mistakes made by employees and by reducing their workload. Conclusion Addressing privacy and security concerns is important to the future advancement of health systems and the benefits they offer. EHRs allow for on-demand access to patient information, reduced medical costs, and contribute to the quality-of-care health providers offer patients. Inefficient security mechanisms give rise to many of the security concerns we see today. However, as new policies are enacted to implement standards and updated regulations, security protocols will continue to improve and advance the efficient use of health systems like EHRs. 8 References Amato, F., Casola, V., Cozzolino, G., De Benedictis, A., Mazzocca, N., & Moscato, F. (2021). A security and privacy validation methodology for e-Health Systems. ACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing, Communications, and Applications, 17(2s), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1145/3412373 Chenthara, S., Ahmed, K., Wang, H., & Whittaker, F. (2019). Security and privacy-preserving challenges of e-Health Solutions in cloud computing. IEEE Access, 7, 74361–74382. https://doi.org/10.1109/access.2019.2919982 Farhadi, M., Haddad, H., & Shahriar, H. (2018). Static analysis of Hippa security requirements in Electronic Health Record Applications. 2018 IEEE 42nd Annual Computer Software and Applications Conference (COMPSAC). https://doi.org/10.1109/compsac.2018.10279 Hager, A., Goland, T., Sapio, N., & Hurt, I. (2020). Securing private medical data, and influencing medical device design to prioritize privacy: A systems analysis approach. 2020 Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium (SIEDS). https://doi.org/10.1109/sieds49339.2020.9106633 Miller, J. A. (2019, November 18). EHRs: A Look at Their Problems and Potential . HealthTech. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2019/11/ehrslook-their-problems-and-potential. 9 Rahim, F. A., Ismail, Z., & Samy, G. N. (2017). Healthcare Employees’ perception on information privacy concerns. 2017 International Conference on Research and Innovation in Information Systems (ICRIIS). https://doi.org/10.1109/icriis.2017.8002498 Steger, A. (2019, December 12). 3 Ways Electronic Health Records Will Continue to Improve in 2020. HealthTech . Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2019/12/3-ways-electronic-health-records-willcontinue-improve-2020-perfcon. Varshney, S., Munjal, D., Bhattacharya, O., Saboo, S., & Aggarwal, N. (2020). Big Data Privacy Breach Prevention Strategies. 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Energy, Signal Processing and Cyber Security (ISSSC). https://doi.org/10.1109/isssc50941.2020.9358878 1 Student Sample C Department of English, George Mason University ENGH-302: Advanced Composition Dr. Foltz November 8, 2021 2 Literature Review Introduction From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has been having trouble making decisions based on evidence. There have been many mistakes and reversals of decisions as health officials gained more knowledge about the virus. Examples of this is whether the public should wear masks or whether people should stay at home. This is expected as the decisions that are made are only as effective as the data that they are based on. Often, there is not enough data due to how states are releasing data. Some states report data daily but for other states, this rate can go down to just once weekly or even less. This has greatly limited organizations such as the CDC, which provides one of the nation’s most major pandemic surveillance, from collecting and analyzing the data on the pandemic accurately. According to Erin Banco from Politico, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was flying blind: The state agencies that it relied on were way behind in their tracking” (Banco, 2021). This inefficient level of tracking greatly reduces the potential for health officials to make sound decisions. Furthermore, there are also states that are non-compliant, as pointed out by Adeel Hassan and Lisa Waananen Jones from The New York Times, “State officials stopped sharing counts of new coronavirus cases by county with the public on June 30, just as the Delta variant began surging in the United States” (Hassan & Jones, 2021). This was done by citing privacy laws in Nebraska that were recently reinstated. These privacy laws are exceptionally strict and prevent data from being released. The challenges that the U.S. faced with making decisions based on evidence during the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 are still being faced today and have even gotten worse in some states as new variants emerge. One reason for this is the reduced amount of data that is being shared from states, which for some states like Nebraska are due to refusal. Another is that reported data 3 is not consistent nationwide and this causes difficulty in forming compiled datasets for state and nation levels. The U.S. is just now seeing these problems visibly because now it is attempting to respond to a public health emergency using big data, which not all states can handle. Given that the pandemic has made already existing problems more visible, the U.S. should increase federal authority over health data during pandemics to standardize and centralize data sharing, which would increase the capability of public health officials to make evidence-based decisions. Reduced sampling bias and an increased amount of information would come because of these actions, leading to a heightened response to pandemics. To be discussed is a further analysis of the challenges the U.S. is facing in decisionmaking in response to COVID-19. Then an explanation of how a lack of data sharing is causing these challenges will be given. Possible solutions will be explored in the effort to come up with one that draws the best out of each. Key terms that will be used throughout the review are data sharing, COVID-19, and evidence. Data sharing can show up throughout the review in the form of other terms such as reporting or information sharing. COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 are synonymous and public health emergency is used as a general term. The term evidence ranges from expert opinion to data that is used to make decisions, but in this review the focus will be on data. The sources that will be referenced are mostly peer-reviewed articles from academic journals, with some news sources and articles coming from professional organizations. Problem The response to the pandemic has been significantly influenced by decisions that lacked evidence. Public health officials are expected to act on matters that they are not fully informed on and are more likely to make ineffective decisions. For example, the anti-malaria drug 4 Hydroxychloroquine was used to treat COVID-19 without strong evidence that would show that it is effective. Outside of a public health emergency, there is normally a thorough process that potential treatments must go through to be used for a medical condition. Pharmaceutical research during the pandemic has produced insufficient evidence for decision-making, most notably with Hydroxychloroquine, leading to negative results in health care and ongoing research (Perillat & Baigrie, 2021). In observing pandemic data, the high data volume along with slow reporting and data entry are problematic in managing information (Gao et al., 2020). States like Florida have had trouble keeping up with reporting as their previous reporting capacity was up to weekly reports (Williams et al., 2021). Although the research on Hydroxychloroquine was insignificant, it was used to treat COVID-19. This accelerated approval is unexpected outside of a pandemic as there is more time to collect and interpret evidence. Interpreting the evidence is difficult now as the U.S. cannot handle big data in health care, and this can be seen more specifically in states like Florida. The information from all states is not in a uniform format, and so it is more likely for discrepancies to show up. In addition, several states are restrictive on the release of health data, which adds to the difficulty of interpreting pandemic data. It is clear that these problems are caused by a lack of data sharing, and issues within this cause that are also present are centralization and standardization. Cause Decision-making during the current pandemic has been largely void of strong evidence. This is because the organizations in need of this evidence are not able to access it when they need to. The previous example concerning the research on Hydroxychloroquine shows how a lack of sharing information limits the response to pandemics. Sharing research methods and scientific findings allows for accurate information and new research questions to be produced 5 (Perillat & Baigrie, 2021). Recent publications in academic journals have seen a decrease in open data and dataset sharing, and an increase in content such as opinion papers (Gkiouras et al., 2020). The response to COVID-19 require data to be integrated across multiple institutions for accurate reflections of the scope of the pandemic (Foraker et al., 2020). In the case of Hydroxychloroquine, not enough experts were able to critique the research before it was used to treat COVID-19 patients. If research methods are shared, flaws can be detected and repetition can take place, leading to the correct conclusions. Integration of data among health organizations is not in place as of now, and that is the cause of the ineffective policies that have been put in place. As seen with the recent trend in journal articles, there is less sharing of data, and therefore the quality of information has decreased significantly. There are outdated policies in several states that prevent the release of patient data, which lowers the accuracy of the national dataset. Specifically, there is information that cannot be shared in some states, such as race and ethnicity data, which have been useful in describing the pandemic. Some states are sharing high quality data which include variables like race and ethnicity, but they are rendered ineffective by other states’ inability to do the same. This inconsistency hinders the ability to form a dataset representing the entire U.S. population, and therefore prevents public health officials from making evidence-based policies. Solution The standard of the health data infrastructure in the U.S. is below what it needs to be to handle pandemic data. An infrastructure that increases data sharing can allow for the ability to handle big data in health care, leading to better response efforts from policymakers. There are infrastructure designs that emphasize data sharing up to the international levels. One specific design allows for a system to iteratively collect and share data from multiple organizations up to 6 the global level along with its analysis, interpretation, and action (Foraker et al., 2020). This increases the ability for creating a national data set, and technology permits for this to happen through EHR, which allows for timely data sharing that can improve the aggregation of pandemic data (Reeves et al., 2021). An infrastructure that enables data sharing to a central point is very beneficial during pandemics as it increases collaboration among researchers. It also has the potential of reducing the number of mistakes made in pandemic response. Health providers collect the same information from all patients in a standardized format that can be easily interpreted if aggregated into a dataset. This information pertains only to patients and not hospital resources, which hospitals have trouble reporting in a consistent manner amongst each other. With electronic health records, the U.S. is equipped with standardized patient health data that can be combined to form a national dataset. Making data available on a large scale can increase the effectiveness of the response to pandemics, but standardization of data reporting is important in preventing discrepancies in statistical models. Recommendations Standardized and centralized sharing of health data can improve decision-making in the U.S. as it provides descriptions of public health that are higher in accuracy and precision. Samples representative of the entire U.S. reduce the amount of error that is present within a statistical model, and so any significant results will appear to be stronger. Sharing health data will allow for public health officials to make policies that are supported by ample evidence. There is evidence of the benefits of data sharing such as the success in Miami-Dade County’s pandemic response is due to the connection made between policymakers and health care organizations (Williams et al., 2021). The way this county’s response was improved was through integration of information through different organizations (Foraker et al., 2020). 7 Gaining this level of information cannot be done without the proper participation of all states within the U.S. and so a federal standard must be set for how information is reported, which includes the frequency of reporting as well. In addition, health data infrastructure nationwide should be upgraded so that each state is equal in capability of providing surveillance reports. Up to the current moment, the U.S. has not made proper use of big data in health care, but it is unsuccessfully attempting to do so now. A federal standard and updated health data infrastructure should provide a means to standardization and centralization of health data, which will allow policymakers to make use of big data in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusion It is clear that action must be taken to improve health data infrastructure in the U.S. in order to prepare for the next public health emergency. The problems with the current infrastructure have only just been noticed now because the time that public health officials have been afforded to make decisions has been dramatically reduced. Without sufficient evidence, policymakers are more likely to make flawed decisions, such as approving Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19. The current infrastructure in the U.S. cannot handle the size of health data that is available, and in its unsuccessful attempt it is producing results with higher levels of error. This is a problem that arises due to the lack of data sharing, as data ranks highest on the evidence hierarchy. Sharing data and scientific findings increases the rate of progress in responding to pandemics while reducing error at the same time, and a successful response requires that this happens among different health organizations. The ability of the U.S. to accomplish this can be enabled by a data infrastructure that allows datasets to be aggregated to a national level using sources such as electronic health records. If implemented, improvements to the health data infrastructure can greatly improve the response to the world’s next pandemic. 8 References Banco, Erin (2021, August 15). Inside America’s Covid-reporting breakdown. Politico. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/08/15/inside-americas-covid-data-gap-502565. Foraker, R. E., Lai, A. M., Kannampallil, T. G., Woeltje, K. F., Trolard, A. M., & Payne, P. R. O. (2020). Transmission dynamics: Data sharing in the COVID-19 era. Learning Health Systems, e10235. https://doi-org.mutex.gmu.edu/10.1002/lrh2.10235. Gao, F., Tao, L., Huang, Y., & Shu, Z. (2020). Management and Data Sharing of COVID-19 Pandemic Information. Biopreservation and biobanking, 18(6), 570-580. https://doi.org/10.1089/bio.2020.0134. Gkiouras, K., Nigdelis, M. P., Grammatikopoulou, M. G., & Goulis, D. G. (2020). Tracing open data in emergencies: The case of the COVID-19 pandemic. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 50(9), e13323. https://doi-org.mutex.gmu.edu/10.1111/eci.13323 Hassan, Adeel, & Jones, Lisa Waananen (2021, October 6). Nebraska restores its Covid data dashboard after taking it down over the summer. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/05/world/americas/nebraska-covid-casesdashboard.html?searchResultPosition=10. Perillat, Lucie, & Baigrie, Brian S. (2021). COVID-19 and the generation of novel scientific knowledge: Evidence-based decisions and data sharing. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 27(3), 708-715. https://doi-org.mutex.gmu.edu/10.1111/jep.13548. Reeves, J. J., Pageler, N. M., Wick, E. C., Melton, G. B., Tan, Y. G., Clay, B. J., & Longhurst, C. A. (2021). The Clinical Information Systems Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Yearbook of medical informatics, 30(1), 105–125. https://doi.org/10.1055/s0041-1726513. 9 Williams, R., Bursac, Z., Trepka, M. J., & Odom, G. J. (2021). Lessons Learned From MiamiDade County’s COVID-19 Epidemic: Making Surveillance Data Accessible for Policy Makers. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: JPHMP, 27(3), 310–317. https://doi-org.mutex.gmu.edu/10.1097/PHH.0000000000001364 Running Head: SEL in the Classroom 1 Benefits of Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom Student Sample D George Mason University ENGH 302 Dr. Foltz SEL in the Classroom 2 Introduction: Most people have had a teacher that only saw them as the percentage grade received in their class, or only cared about how you did academically and nothing more. Studies are showing that when an educator adds the component of social and emotional learning (SEL) into their classroom their students’ academic achievement increases. Research has shown that an 11-point gain in academic achievement is seen with the implementation of SEL programs integrated in schools. (Dusenbury & Weissberg, 2017, p. 38) Not only are students performing better in school, but their behavior is also more positive. Social and emotional learning is the process in which a child develops social and emotional skills as well as how to use those skills properly. The five key parts of SEL are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. (Clark, 2021). When an educator focuses on social and emotional learning their students benefit in a multitude of areas. This paper will discuss the value of adding SEL curriculums into schools, especially regarding academic and behavioral implications. The Purpose of this paper is to discuss the benefits of SEL in the classroom and why it should be integrated into all schools. The paper will start by describing the ideal classroom environment to support social and emotional learning as well as enhancing academic and behavioral improvement. The paper will then emphasize the benefits of SEL as it relates to academic improvement and positive behaviors in children. Lastly, the paper will discuss recommendations on how to best add SEL programs into schools. SEL in the Classroom 3 BODY: Positive Learning Environment: Social and emotional learning begins by creating a positive learning environment. A student should feel safe and cared for in the classroom, where they feel free to learn at their own pace. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl (2017) states, “Research shows that warm classroom environments and positive teacher-student relationships promote both academic learning and SEL” (p. 142). Schonert-Reichl also emphasizes how important it is for a teacher to be able to create a place where students feel safe, have a sense of community, and are fully supported. A teacher must be able to foster this type of environment as well as teach the skills needed to give students the tools to develop their social and emotional skills (p.142). As it can be seen with the above quote, academic and SEL skills both benefit from an educator’s intentional actions to make sure that a student knows they are going to be supported, not only on an academic level, but also emotionally. The warm environment they are speaking about is a place where a child feels comfortable speaking, learning, and growing in all aspects. Another study speaks on how SEL classroom practices, such as modeling positive mindsets, may really help children. One example from the text is when a teacher uses a growth mindset, “In class observations, we heard statements like ‘mistakes make your brain grow’ and “If I hear you say, ‘I can’t do it,’ I want you to add three little letters to the end of that: ‘I can’t do it YET’” (Allbright et al, 2019, p. 44). It is especially critical for a child to know it is okay to make a mistake because that means they are learning and actively participating. When a teacher gives encouraging feedback to students, their relationship strengthens, and trust begins to grow. Trust between a student and teacher will give that child confidence to try their best, make mistakes, and confide in their teacher if they need help. These two sources show the power in creating that safe place for a SEL in the Classroom 4 child and how that can encourage academic success. When a child feels secure in their classroom, they will feel ready and eager to learn in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. Academic Success: Academic success has been shown to improve with the addition of SEL programs. A study writes, “A meta-analysis including 213 rigorous studies and over 270,000 students demonstrated that students who received SEL programs performed better than students who did not. They showed an 11 percentile-point gain on measures of academic achievement” (Dusenbury & Weissberg, 2017, p. 38) This study shows the significance of intertwining SEL in the classroom as academics improve greatly. Barbra Gueldner, Laura Feuerborn and Kenneth W. Merrell (2020) add a new perspective to how SEL and academic competence correlate by explaining how children in school must learn self-control and be able to delay gratification. They highlight that when a child makes their educational responsibilities a top priority, like completing their homework before playing with friends, that it will lead to them performing better, academically (p. 111). It is important to note that SEL programs explicitly teach self-awareness, responsible decision making and self-management. These components will help a child gain the skills necessary for them to focus on school and feel encouraged to be in control of their own learning. Not only will children learn those crucial developmental skills with SEL programs, but they will also improve their academic scores. One-way teachers implement academics into SEL curriculums is to have their students think of and write what their “smart goals” were in both an academic and social context. Teachers would then be able to speak one on one with students throughout the year to see what approaches worked in accomplishing their goals and what they can change if they haven’t successfully completed their goals (Khazanchi, 2021). When asking a child to identify their SEL in the Classroom 5 academic and social goals, they are more inclined to work toward them. Another important aspect to remember when linking academic and SEL practices is that they both are “social processes”. Academic learning and SEL is a process that happens for children at school in collaboration with teachers, peers, and anyone they interact with at school (Oberle, 2016, p. 281). When a teacher and student work together towards academic goals, as described above, they are also building social skills. This connection is why academic success and SEL programs work so well together. Positive Behavior: Behavior in the classroom is shown to significantly improve with the addition of SEL in the curriculum. A big part of showing positive behavior is being able to control one’s emotions. One-way teachers are teaching skills to deal with emotions is asking students to get in tune with their feelings and describe their emotions. In one case, a teacher has a chart where students can see where their emotions lie. The emotion chart has four quadrants, and the more negative emotions are signified by red and yellow. This helps the child identify what they are feeling based off the chart, and a teacher can then investigate with that child why they feel that way if their emotions lie in the red or yellow zones (Khazanchi, 2021). As a child this can be a difficult task, but SEL programs can give children the tools to manage those big feelings positively. When a child is given the chance to learn and see how they are feeling by looking at a chart, they will be able to better understand and regulate their emotions. Teachers can use the chart as a tool to help their students change their mindset if they are in a negative headspace, to then move toward more positive emotions. Another important part of promoting good behavior in the classroom is to not always punish a child for acting out, but instead find out the root cause of the problem. In schools adopting SEL practices they implemented this, “In total, 7 of 10 schools had SEL in the Classroom 6 adopted some formal positive disciplinary approach such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. Typically, these approaches led teachers and school staff to focus on why a student acted as they did, to support students in developing self-awareness and self-regulation and to reward positive behavior…” (Allbright et al., 2019, p. 42) When teachers do this, there is a greater chance the child will have more positive behaviors. With this approach, children will also be able to recognize and regulate their negative behaviors and emotions, which like the source above states, promotes self-awareness and self-regulation. Instead of a teacher automatically punishing the child, they will be able to discuss their behavior and find solutions to act appropriately. Giving the child tools to deal with their emotions, along with open discussions, will allow for children to display positive behavior. Recommendations: It can be seen by the evidence presented that SEL programs are a great asset to schools. Schools are starting to catch on to the value of SEL programs which can be seen by the fact that SEL practices are integrated in preschools in every U.S. state. SEL curriculums are also present in K-12 in Illinois, Kansas, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania (Khazanchi, 2021). One of the best ways to start working toward every child having a SEL program in their school is educating teachers. Current and future educators should be getting training in the best ways of incorporating SEL practices into the classroom. This means teacher education programs need to add this to their curriculum and regular training should be required for working teachers. Not only should teachers be trained, but they also need to be supported (Khazanchi, 2021). Teachers should feel like they have a community they can reach out to and ask for help, especially if they are struggling to incorporate SEL into their lessons. An issue that has been present in many schools is funding. Schools need to work with federal, state, or district officials to finance this SEL in the Classroom 7 important program (Oberle, 2016, p. 291). It is time that schools start making social and emotional learning a priority along with academics Conclusion: When looking at all the research and benefits of successfully implementing social and emotional learning programs into schools, it is obvious every school should invest in this addition to schools. The key reasons this program should be added is to benefit students and improve their educational experience. As amazing as it is that schools are starting to implement these practices, it is critical all schools give students the opportunity to learn social and emotional skills. The major benefits and success SEL provides for children in their education and future is evident in all the research. Adding this program will allow for a warm classroom environment that fosters academic achievement and good behavior. Students will be able to grow and develop new skills they will need for their whole lives. All schools in the United States should continue to push for this SEL programs in their schools. SEL in the Classroom 8 References Allbright, T. N., Marsh, J. A., Kennedy, K. E., Hough, H. J., & McKibben, S. (2019). Socialemotional learning practices: Insights from outlier schools. Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning, 12(1), 35-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JRIT-02-20190020 Clark, A. (2021, May 27). What is social-emotional learning? Understood. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/articles/en/social-emotional-learning-whatyou-need-to-know Dusenbury, l., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Social Emotional Learning in Elementary School: Preparation for success. Education Digest, 83(1), 36-43 Gueldner, B. A., Feuerborn, L. L., & Merrell, K. W. (2020). Social and emotional learning in the classroom: Promoting mental health and academic success (pp.111) Guilford Publications. Khazanchi. (2021). Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning to build positive behaviors. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 57(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/00228958.2021.1851581 Oberle. (2016). Establishing systemic social and emotional learning approaches in schools: A framework for schoolwide implementation. Cambridge Journal of Education., 46(3), 281291. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2015.1125450 SEL in the Classroom Schonert-Reichl, K. A. (2017). Social and Emotional Learning and Teachers. The Future of Children, 27(1), 137–155. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44219025 9
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