Discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues
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Discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues

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The discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues: a line of research and intervention

The discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues: a line of research and intervention

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Discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues Discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues Presentation Transcript

  • A line of research and intervention The Dicussion of Controversial Socio-Scientific Issues Research Centre on Education Faculty of Sciences Lisbon University School of Education Polythecnic Institute of Santarém Pedro Reis Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
    • A family history marked by a great diversity of people, cultures and political orientations.
    • A family culture strongly influenced by freemasons’ ideals favouring knowledge, discussion and argumentation.
    • A concern with the values of democracy, respect and tolerance.
    • A strong believe that discussion is the foundation of democracy and citizenship.
    Discussion is an essential element of popular sovereignty, mobilizing citizens around common problems or objectives and allowing overcoming differences through non-violent decisions. It promotes respect for different opinions, scepticism towards authoritarianism and the confidence necessary to the involvement of citizens in decision making processes they consider relevant. The Roots: Why Discussion? Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
    • Contemporary society is marked by controversial scientific and technological proposals.
    • Almost every day the media bring up controversial socio-scientific issues. The way science is depicted in the media has an impact on students’ conceptions about science.
    • In a democratic society, the public evaluation of science depends on individuals able to recognize what is at stake in a socio-scientific controversy, to achieve an informed opinion and to participate in discussions and decision-making processes.
    • Recent Portuguese science curricula call for the discussion of controversial SSI as a way of preparing students for an active and informed participation in society.
    The Roots: Why Socio-Scientific Controversies? Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
    • Social Constructivist Epistemology (Doise, Mugny and Perret-Clermont, 1975; Resnick, 1991; Vygotsky, 1978).
    • It is assumed that:
    • People create meaning through their interactions with each other and with the
    • environment they live in .
    • Learning is a social process. It occurs when people are engaged in social activities.
    Philosophical Perspectives about the Nature of Knowledge and Learning This line of research and intervention resources to discussion as a way of increasing the level of knowledge and understanding through the contact with the interpretations and the life experiences of others. Through discussion, individuals have the opportunity to formulate ideas, learn from each other, be aware of alternative perspectives, interiorize theory, criticize ideas, involve themselves in collaborative thinking about real problems they face and increase their knowledge in an attempt to overcome these problems. Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
    • This line of research and intervention:
    • Conceives scientific knowledge as tentative, subjective, resulting from human creativity, influenced by the socio-cultural context and based mainly in observation of the natural world, on experimental evidence, arguments and rational scepticism.
    • Presents science as an enterprise, with deep and complex interactions with technology and society, which attempts to explain natural phenomena through a variety of methods.
    Philosophical Perspectives about the Nature of Science and Scientific Knowledge Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • The studies are mainly qualitative, generally based in case studies. Methodology
    • Information is gathered through:
    • Semi-structured interviews;
    • Classroom observation;
    • Open-ended questionnaires;
    • Analysis of classroom plans and materials made by teachers;
    • Narrative analysis;
    • Analysis of materials written by students.
    • All data is submitted to a process of content analysis, followed by triangulation.
    Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • A Line of Research and Intervention Designing discussion activities about controversial SSI Evaluating the educational potentialities of classroom discussion about controversial SSI Studying how students perceive the classroom discussion of controversial SSI 1995 2008 Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • A Line of Research and Intervention Designing discussion activities about controversial SSI Evaluating the educational potentialities of classroom discussion about controversial SSI Promoting discussion on controversial SSI through Internet Studying how students perceive the classroom discussion of controversial SSI 1995 2008 Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • A Line of Research and Intervention Studying how science teachers tackle and include controversial SSI in their lessons Designing discussion activities about controversial SSI Evaluating the educational potentialities of classroom discussion about controversial SSI Promoting discussion on controversial SSI through Internet Studying how students perceive the classroom discussion of controversial SSI 1995 2008 Studying the factors that help or hinder the discussion of these issues in science classes Studying professional development approaches most effective in providing teachers with the confidence and knowledge required to use classroom discussion on SSI Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Designing Discussion Activities about Controversial SSI Discussion of a controversial issue
    • According to Cowie and Rudduck (1990), the discussion activities held at the school fall into three broad categories:
      • Discussion of controversial issues,
      • Problem solving, and
      • Role-playing.
    The most effective discussion activities combine those three elements That involves some sort of problem solving and decision making Through role-playing Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Educational Potentialities of Classroom Discussion about Controversial SSI
    • Building an image of science and technology as activities influenced by hierarchies of values, financial matters and social pressures;
    • Reinforcing the idea that science and technology represent a source of both progress and concern at the same time, and should be ruled by ethical principles;
    • Acknowledging how important it is that citizens and the State participate in controlling scientific and technological progress and its implications.
    • Many students said it was the first time teachers asked them about their own opinions.
    Classroom Observation; Questionnaires; Interviews; Documents’ Analysis Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Educational Potentialities of Classroom Discussion about Controversial SSI Controversial nature of the issue Classroom environment Stimulating thought Improving students’ involvement in science classes Promoting students’ moral development Developing knowledge Stimulating social interaction Inter and intrapersonal conflicts of ideas (socio-cognitive conflicts) Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Educational Potentialities of Classroom Discussion about Controversial SSI Discussion of ethical aspects of controversial SSI Assessment and reformulation of opinions and beliefs Modification of the original reasoning Detection of logical inconsistencies Doubts’ clarification Information exchange Collaborative analysis of opinions Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Educational Potentialities of Classroom Discussion about Controversial SSI The willingness to think People’s behaviour Interest raised by controversial SSI Express individual opinions / thoughts Think Discussion methodology seemed to be a result of encouraging students to Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Studying How Students Perceive the Classroom Discussion of Controversial SSI
    • Almost all students (94%) were able to express their opinions about one controversial issue, at least. However, the presented arguments were superficial;
    • According to several students, the controversy surrounding these issues results from (1) its innovative and complex nature, (2) the lack of information and (3) the disparity of opinions regarding possible negative side-effects;
    • Several students (16%) acknowledge difficulty in giving an opinion about certain socio-scientific issues due to a lack of information;
    • High number of students (76%) claims to never have addressed or discussed any SSI in their classes;
    • When it occurred, the discussion of controversial SSI in school was sporadic, very time limited and teacher centred.
    Questionnaires; Interviews; Narrative Analysis (n = 84) Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Studying How Students Perceive the Classroom Discussion of Controversial SSI
    • For many students school is not a source of information and clarification regarding controversial SSI;
    • Some students call for a more active role of school in discussing these issues;
    • Television is identified as the main source of information on controversial SSI.
    Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG 11% 9 Scientists and specialists 14% 12 Friends and colleagues 17% 14 Media (in general) 24% 20 Internet 26% 22 Newspapers, books and magazines 43% 36 Family 44% 37 Teachers 54% 45 Television
  • Studying Students’ Conceptions about Science and Recent Controversial SSI
    • The plots of the science fiction stories are believed to reflect a combination of:
    • Students’ ideas about science;
    • Images deriving from the media and science fiction films and books; and
    • The set of elements that students identify as part of a good science fiction story.
    • The science fiction story was assigned as an individual homework task.
    • Students were told to refer explicitly to the work of a group of scientists so we could gather information about the relations within the scientific community.
    • These stories represented another way of gaining access to subjects’ possible conceptions about controversial SSI.
    Questionnaires; Discussion of Science Fiction Stories Written by Students; Interviews Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Studying Students’ Conceptions about Science and Recent Controversial SSI
    • The plots were inspired by science fiction films, books and television series.
    • However, the interviews allowed to understand that these scenarios reflect students’ genuine concerns about scientific and technological research in general.
    • About one-third of the stories included negative ideas about science: catastrophic scenarios triggered by ‘mad’, greedy or unscrupulous scientists.
    • Some stories admitted the possibility of the State financing rather controversial and unethical investigations, kept secret.
    • Most of the students expressed apprehension regarding possible negative consequences of scientific and technological innovations, particularly in the field of genetics, stressing the need for society to reflect deeply upon the potentialities and risks of such innovations.
    Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Studying Students’ Conceptions about Science and Recent Controversial SSI
    • Several of the interviewees feel impotent regarding scientists’ options and they consider that control of their activity should be secured by the most qualified people for such a task: the scientists themselves.
    • Others acknowledge the importance of informing citizens about scientific and technological issues so they can participate in decisions that concern everyone or forbid the improper use of research results.
    • However, students have a positive opinion of scientists in general. Usually they describe scientists as people who are devoted to the evolution of knowledge and to the improvement of Humankind’s living conditions.
    • Despite the aforementioned concerns, most students feel quite optimistic as regards future scientific and technological developments, which they believe will solve many of the world’s current problems.
    Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Promoting Discussion on Controversial SSI through Internet Using Internet to stimulate discussion about controversial SSI related with biotechnology and genetics On-line Forums Asynchronous Discussions Chats Synchronous Discussions “ GENET” Project (gene + net) Analysis of Chats’ and Forums’ Content; Interviews 1997 Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Promoting Discussion on Controversial SSI through Internet
    • Positive aspects
    • Students’ involvement
    • Information exchange
    • Knowledge construction
    • Deeper analysis of SSI
    • It allowed access to participants’ conceptions regarding genetic engineering, genetic testing and cloning
    Chats
    • Negative aspects
    • Confusion
    • Celerity
    • Superficial analysis of SSI
    • Positive aspects
    • Students’ involvement
    • Discussion of diferent ideas/opinions regarding SSI
    • Negative aspects
    • Despite the interest it aroused, participation was less than expected:
    • All the dificulties with SSI discussion
    • +
    • Difficulties integrating ICT in the classroom
    Discussion Forum Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Promoting Discussion on Controversial SSI through Internet On-line Discussion Activities (similar with WebQuests) “ BIOQUEST” Project Analysis of Students’ Papers; Classroom Observation; Interviews
    • To promote:
    • Reflection and discussion on STS-E interactions;
    • Understanding of the different dimensions of current controversial SSI;
    • Skills for citizens’ involvement in decision making processes on SSI;
    • Reduction of the gap between the ”school science" and the “science of news".
    2005 Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Promoting Discussion on Controversial SSI through Internet On-line Activities (similar with WebQuests)
    • Positive results
    • Promoting the discussion and understanding of:
      • STS-E interaccions;
      • the different dimensions of current controversial SSI and SEI .
    • Developing scientific and technological knowledge.
    • Promoting argumentative skills.
    Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Studying How Science Teachers Tackle and Include Controversial SSI in their Lessons
    • Some teachers:
    • Avoid controversy and discussion for fear of losing control;
    • Do not have the management skills necessary to implement discussions;
    • Do not have the necessary knowledge to hold a discussion of socio-scientific issues, namely with regard to the nature of science and the sociological, political, ethical and economic aspects of the topics in question;
    • Do not know how to assess the discussion activities on controversial SSI;
    • Feel restricted by the excessive content of the science curricula;
    • Feel restricted by the national assessment systems that do not value this topics.
    When socio-scientific issues are introduced into the science classroom, they are treated as an initial starting point and presented briefly with little analysis or criticism. Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Studying the Factors that Help or Hinder the Discussion of Controversial SSI in Science Classes
    • The implementation of classroom discussions about controversial SSI depends on:
    • Teachers’ convictions about the educational relevance of these activities;
    • Teachers’ conceptions about curriculum;
    • The desire to carry out discussions in the lessons, i.e. to change their practice;
    • The knowledge needed for their design, management and assessment;
    • The existence of suitable teaching material with examples of activities.
    Our studies suggest the pertinence of an investment in the lasting and contextualised support for teachers during the conception and implementation of this kind of activity in their lessons. Classroom Observation; Interviews; Narrative Analysis Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • Studying Professional Development Approaches Most Effective in Providing Teachers with the Confidence and Knowledge required to Use Classroom Discussion on SSI Teachers should be supervised by professional developers who are willing to attend the lessons, stimulate teachers’ reflection on their own practices and support them in overcoming difficulties and problems.
    • Professional development initiatives must provide:
    • Reflection on the educational potentialities of classroom discussion of controversial SSI;
    • Substantive, procedural and epistemological knowledge of science;
    • Didactical knowledge about how to conduct and assess discussion activities;
    • A support structure in the classroom context that contributes to the promotion of a reflective attitude towards individual performance and helps to overcome the difficulties and obstacles inherent to the experimentation of this methodology.
    Workshops; Classroom Observation; Interviews; Narrative Analysis Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
    • To study how the discussion of controversial SSI is being used after the implementation of new science curricula (right now we have school programs that suggest slightly the discussion of SSI - 10th and 11th grade; and other program strongly centred on the discussion of SSI - 12th grade).
    • To study students' opinions about classroom discussions of controversial SSI:
      • How students interpret this activity - potentialities and difficulties they notice;
      • Issues they have discussed at school;
      • How they have discussed those issues;
      • Their opinions about those issues...
    • To study (through narrative analysis) how different people perceive certain Socio-Environmental Controversies (related with water management) that affect their lives (Rio Madeira and Alqueva dams).
    • To develop classroom discussion activities that integrate those narratives.
    Future Research Possibilities Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
  • [email_address] Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
    • Discussion is a particular form of group interaction in which members come together to address an issue of common interest, something they need to understand, assess and decide (James T. Dillon, 1994).
    • It differs from conversation, debate, bull sessions and recitation (James T. Dillon, 1994).
    The Roots: Why Discussion? Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG
    • An issue is defined as controversial :
    • If people are divided about it and if it involves an element of value judgment which prevents the issue being settle by evidence and experiment alone (Wellington, 1986).
    • If it is considered important by a large number of people (Gardner, 1983).
    The Roots: Why Socio-Scientific Controversies? Institute of Education London University Science Education SIG