Science for Life –for life - a conceptual framework for modelling socio-scientific cases

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Science for Life –for life - a conceptual framework for modelling socio-scientific cases

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Science for Life –for life - a conceptual framework for modelling socio-scientific cases
Author(s) Ekborg, Margareta ; Ideland, Malin ; Malmberg, Claes ; Ottander, Christina ; Rehn, Agneta
Date 2008-06
English abstract
Development of a conceptual framework for modelling socio-scientific cases A report from the research project “Science for Life” Introduction This paper describes the first step of a research project aiming at investigating how pupils and teachers develop interest and knowledge in science when working with socio-scientific issues. Background, Aims and Framework There is need to develop science education in order to develop pupils’ interest and knowledge in science (Aikenhead, 2006; EU, 2007). One way is to bring in a humanistic perspective (Aikenhead, 2006) and to focus more on scientific literacy than science literacy Roberts (2007). Ratcliffe & Grace (2003) have characterized socio-scientific issues (SSI) as important for society and with basis in science. They involve forming opinions, are frequently media-reported, involve values and ethical reasoning, may require some understanding of probability and risks and there are no “right” answers. In studies about SSI pupils have usually been working with an issue typically including a dilemma. They have been observed and/or interviewed and their written reports have been analysed (Aikenhead, 2007; Jimiénez-Aleixandre & Pereiro-Munoz, 2002; Grace & Ratcliffe, 2002; Kölstø. 2001). Aikenhead (2006) summarises in a research review that pupils working with SSI generally sought little scientific fact, weighing values more heavily than science. Lewis and Leach (2006) report hat pupils need scientific knowledge, but they can engage in issues about gene technology with relatively modest science knowledge, if the content is well designed and contextualised Another question deals with whether or not the pupils develop conceptual understanding in science when working with SSI. It seems that an issue with social relevance is more motivating to the students. However SSI are often complex and therefore more difficult to understand (Aikenhead, 2006). On the other hand motivation can overcome complexity and lead to greater achievement on traditional science tests (Sadler, 2004). Research project We need to gain more detailed knowledge about what features in content and organization affect the development of interest, knowledge and self-efficacy among the pupils. As reported above, most research concerning work with SSI in science does not particularly discuss characteristics of the content. The aim of this evidence-based research project is to learn more about what importance the features of the actual case or issue as well as factors in classroom work, have for the impact on students’ interest and learning. Another aim is to gain more detailed knowledge about teachers’ experiences with teaching SSI. We are interested in knowing more about what importance the features of issue has for the impact on teachers as well as students. The project is conducted in three steps. In step one, reported in this paper, a conceptual framework, consisting of six components (table 1), is developed and operationalized into a number of authentic cases for science in school. Aikenhead (2006) draws the conclusion that most work attempting to change school practice has failed as a result of problems arising when researchers try to transfer the success of one research project to a new context. Most studies are small-scale studies involving only a few volunteer science teachers to initiate the novel project. Therefore in step two we have a quantitative research approach. About 100 school classes in Sweden with approximately 1500 pupils worked with one or several cases during 2007 (data on how the task characteristics relate to students’ affective and cognitive experiences during work will be available spring 08). Methods and Samples The aim of this paper is to describe how a conceptual framework, which can be used as an analytical tool for understanding and constructing socio-scientific cases, was developed. The framework focuses on content and features of the SSI. It will be used as a tool for analyzing what components of the tasks are related to, and most influential on, interest and learning in work with socio-scientific issues in secondary school. The six omponents are chosen to reflect what we know from research literature about what might have an impact on interest and learning. It is possible to find variants within each component. For example SSI should be authentic but what importance does the specific authentic context have? Results The framework consists of a grid with the six components and the six cases. We will describe the model in detail and how it can be used for construction of cases and analyses of the work in school. Starting-point (authentric situation), school science subject, nature of scientific content, social content, use of scientific knowledge and level of co conflict of interest. Components 1. Starting-point (authentic situation), - TV-programme, newspaper articles, personal homepage, a novel, the pupils’ family situation and the school cantina 2. School science subject - biology, chemistry, physics ant technology 3. Nature of the scientific knowledge-base and evidence - e.g. well agreed upon, contradictory reports 4. Social content - e.g. economy, ethics, media 5. Use of scientific knowledge - decision-making, suggestions, critical scrutinizing, investigating 6. Level of conflict – individual, the societal and the structural level Conclusions and Implications The six cases developed from the model are briefly described. 1. You are what you eat? Anna Skipper is the host of the Swedish version of the TV- production “You are what you eat”. In each programme a person with weight problems, usually over-weight, gets advice about how to change lifestyle to get fit. The pupils’ mission is to scrutinize the advice given and to compare the information about food, exercise and health with other sources. The pupils make decisions about their personal life style. Teachers and pupils decide together how the result should be reported. 2. Laser treatment and near sightedness On a personal homepage Susi tells about how much she hates wearing glasses and that she finally has gone through laser treatment for her near sightedness. It cost lots of money and the costs are not covered by the social insurance system. The mission is to decide if it is worthwhile go through such a treatment and about who should pay – the individual – or society. Teachers and pupils decide together how the result should be reported 3. To hear or not to hear? In an excerpt from the novel Talk, talk by T.S. Boyle, Dana who is deaf since birth and her hearing boyfriend Bridger discuss if cochlea implant is a solution for Dana. She is very hesitant as she feels that hearing or not has to do with her identity. This is very difficult for Bridger to understand. The mission is to analyse different ways to judge this situation and to take out arguments for different views. We do not find it appropriate to encourage the pupils to have a personal opinion on what Dana should do. Teachers and pupils decide together how the result should be reported 4. Me, my family and global warming The mission is to find ideas for how the pupils’ families can contribute to decreasing carbon dioxide emissions. The pupils start out by mapping the family’s need for transportation, what kind of motor-driven vehicles there are in the family, and how these are used. After that they test different alternatives considering ecological, scientific, economical and social aspects. The mission is to produce a realistic plan for how to decrease the carbon dioxide emissions of the family. 5. Are mobiles hazardous? Starting from two articles from the same newspaper – one saying that are no risks with mobiles and the one saying that the risk for developing a brain tumour is considerable. The pupils should find out what information there is, how it is provided and by whom. The mission is to make a decision about the consequences for their own use of a mobile and/or how they would choose when buying a new one. Teachers and pupils decide together how the result should be reported 6. Climate-friendly food in school? The mission is for class to check how food, served in the school canteen, affects the climate and if there are better alternatives to some examples of food. The mission is to suggest a change and to write a letter to the headmaster and ask him to consider. Bibliography Aikenhead, Glen. (2006). Science Education for Everyday Life: Evidence-Based Practice. New York: Teachers College Press. EU (2007). Science Education in Europe Grace, Marcus, & Ratcliffe, Mary. (2002). The science and values that young people draw upon to make decisions about biological conservation issues. International Journal of Science Education, 24(11), 1157-1169. Jimiénez-Aleixandre, M-P, & Pereiro-Munoz, C. (2002). Knowledge producers or knowledge consumers? Argumentation and decision making about environmental management. International Journal of Science Education, 24(11), 1171-1190. Kolstø, S. D. (2001). 'To trust or not to trust,...'-pupils' ways of judging information encountered in a socio-scientific issue. International Journal of Science Education, 23(9), 877-901 Lewis, J. & Leach, J. (2006). Discussion of Socio-scientific Issues. The Role of Science Education. International Journal of Science Education, 28 (11). 1267-1287. Ratcliffe, Mary, & Grace, Marcus. (2003). Science Education for Citizenship. Teaching Socio-Scientific Issues. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Roberts, Douglas, A.(2007). Scientific Literacy/Science Literacy. In Abell & Lederman (Eds.). Handbook of Research on Science Education. Mahwah, New Jersey: LEA Publishers Sadler, T. (2004). Informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues: A critical review of research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 41 (5).,513-536
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) secondary school
conceotual framework
Humanities/Social Sciences
science education
socio-scientific issues
Note Paper presented at 9th Nordic Research Symposium on Science Education 11th -15th June 2008 Reykjavik, Iceland.
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