The socioscientific issues framework has proven to have a significant impact over the last two decades on many areas related to the development of functional scientific literacy in students. In this article, we summarize and synthesize recent trends in socioscientific issues research that impact both disciplinary and interdisciplinary science education research. These trends represent science-in-context investigations that we propose are advanced by three broad and interrelated areas of research including: 1) Socioscientific Issues and the Central Role of Socioscientific Reasoning; 2) Socioscientific Issues and the Primacy of Socioscientific Perspective Taking; and, 3) Socioscientific Issues and the Importance of Informal and Place-Based Contexts. We discuss the most recent research in those areas and explore the educational significance these new trends.
Our guiding presupposition in this study was that socioscientific issues (SSI) instruction, given the humanistic features that comprise this type of instruction, could play a role as a vehicle for cultivating character and values as global citizens. Our main objective was to observe how and to what extent SSI instruction might contribute to this. In order to achieve this aim, we implemented a SSI program on genetic modification technology for 132 ninth-grade students over 3-4 weeks and identified its educational effects using a mixed method approach. Data sources included student responses to questionnaire items that measure the students' character and values, records of student discussions, and semi-structured interviews with the students and their teachers. Results indicated that the students became more sensitive to moral and ethical aspects of scientific and technological development and compassionate to diverse people who are either alienated by the benefits of advanced technology or who are vulnerable to the dangers of its unintended effects. In addition, the students felt more responsible for the future resolution of the genetic SSI. However, the students struggled to demonstrate willingness and efficacy to participate within broader communities that entailed action toward SSI resolution.
ABSTRACT:The science education field readily recognizes that perceptions about science's claims and nature influence socioscientific decision making. However, sociocultural factors may overshadow these perceptions when people are forced to make personally impacting choices contextualized within actual socioscientific issues. This investigation determined 324 secondary students' perceptions about global warming (GW) science and willingness to mitigate GW across five categories of actions-each requiring varying levels of personal sacrifice (e.g., supporting GW education versus limiting personal reproduction). Identified sociocultural indicators among the students included ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic classification. Results indicate that GW science views and sociocultural factors became less impactful on the participants' willingness to mitigate GW as the GW-mitigating actions required greater personal involvement and sacrifice. However, most consistently significantly predicting willingness to mitigate GW was the participants' perceptions about the validity of GW science claims. Furthermore, while the participants' perceptions about the nature of GW science methods significantly influenced their willingness to enact certain GW-mitigating actions, socioeconomic classification and ethnicity were oftentimes stronger indicators of the participants' inclination to mitigate GW. Implications for education discussed include promoting responsible socioscientific decision
Preparing students to achieve the lofty goal of functional scientific literacy entails addressing the normative and non‐normative facets of socioscientific issues (SSI) such as scientific processes, the nature of science (NOS) and diverse sociocultural perspectives. SSI instructional approaches have demonstrated some efficacy for promoting students' NOS views, compassion for others, and decision making. However, extant investigations appear to neglect fully engaging students through authentic SSI in several ways. These include: (i) providing SSI instruction through classroom approaches that are divorced from students' lived experiences; (ii) demonstrating a contextual misalignment between SSI and NOS (particularly evident in NOS assessments); and (iii) framing decision making and position taking analogously—with the latter being an unreliable indicator of how people truly act. The significance of the convergent parallel mixed‐methods investigation reported here is how it responds to these shortcomings through exploring how place‐based SSI instruction focused on the contentious environmental issue of wolf reintroduction in the Greater Yellowstone Area impacted sixty secondary students' NOS views, compassion toward those impacted by contentious environmental issues, and pro‐environmental intent. Moreover, this investigation explores how those perspectives associate with the students' pro‐environmental action of donating to a Yellowstone environmental organization. Results demonstrate that the students' NOS views became significantly more accurate and contextualized, with moderate to large effect, through the place‐based SSI instruction. Through that instruction, the students also exhibited significant gains in their compassion for nature and people impacted by contentious environmental issues and pro‐environmental intent. Further analyses showed that donating students developed and demonstrated significantly more robust and contextualized NOS views, compassion for people and nature impacted by contentious environmental issues, and pro‐environmental intent than their nondonating counterparts. Pedagogical implications include how place‐based learning in authentic settings could better prepare students to understand NOS, become socioculturally aware, and engage SSI across a variety of contexts.
The purpose of this investigation was to examine, from a cross-cultural perspective, students' epistemological patterns of reasoning about socioscientific issues (SSI), and to identify potential interactions of cultural and scientific identity. Mediating factors associated with students' argumentation and discourse about SSI, as well as the public's understanding of science, has been identified as an important area of investigation in the field of science education. This mixed-methods design included over 300 students from Jamaica, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United States. Students responded to instruments designed to assess their epistemological conceptualizations and justifications related to distributive justice, allocation of scarce medical resources, and epistemological beliefs over five dimensions related to scientific knowledge. Four iterations of a coding scheme produced over 97% inter-rater agreement for four independent coders. Results indicate there is a consistent trend toward epistemological congruity across cultures within inductively derived themes of: (1) Fairness;(2) Pragmatism; (3) Emotive Reasoning; (4) Utility; and (5) Theological Issues. Moreover, there were no discernable differences in terms of how students from these countries presented their beliefs on the sub-categories of each of the five major categories. It appears that students displayed a high degree of congruence with respect to how they frame their reasoning on this SSI as well as their justifications for their epistemological beliefs. There were statistically significant differences regarding the ability to raise scientifically relevant questions among countries. Commonalities as well as distinguishing characteristics in epistemological orientations are compared and contrasted and connections to a model of socioscientific reasoning with implications for research and pedagogy are discussed. ß 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 50: 2013 The purpose of this investigation was to examine, from a cross-cultural perspective, students' epistemological patterns of reasoning about socioscientific issues (SSI), and to identify potential interactions of cultural and scientific identity. We derive our fundamental meaning of epistemological beliefs from the Greek term epistēmē, which expresses how individuals construe and justify meaning from their own personal knowledge and understanding about the world. In this context, epistemological reasoning refers to how individuals frame an issue and Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article.
Few, if any, studies have examined the impact of nature of science (NOS) instruction on science teachers’ practices 2 or more years after completing a science teacher education program. Extant studies on preservice and first‐year teachers’ NOS teaching practices have had disappointing results, with few teachers valuing NOS as a cognitive objective or teaching it in ways consistent with literature regarding effective NOS instruction. In addition, little is known about teachers’ specific NOS practices due to a lack of observation protocols to assess teachers’ NOS instruction. This study examined teachers’ NOS instructional practices 2–5 years after completing an intensive secondary science education program that included a NOS course and attention to NOS instruction throughout all other science education coursework. Twelve of the 13 study participants explicitly taught NOS, and 9 of the 13 did so at moderate to high levels. This paper also presents a NOS Classroom Observation Protocol (NOS‐COP) designed to make evident many facets of teachers’ NOS implementation practices that have not always been clear in prior research. This study raises important issues about achieving the goal of NOS instruction. Accurate and effective NOS instruction appears achievable, but may require far more effort than found in typical science teacher education programs. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed 97:271–309, 2013
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