99 ERC SES 07 L, Teacher Education Research
This is a qualitative grounded theory study to reveal how decision making (DM) processes on socioscientific issue (SSI) in a referendum case are operated by unsophisticated (Group U) and sophisticated (Group S) ones in terms of nature of science (NOS) understandings. Referendums are real life situations in which citizens take responsibility and therefore they reflect one of the best cases to understand why we try to teach NOS to “all students” but in the literature there was no DM model explaining the individuals’ real-life DM process in referendum about SSI. In the present study, firstly, Focus Group interviews were conducted with pre-service science teachers to select an appropriate SSI for DM. With the findings, semi-structured in-depth interviews of the main study –DM about the artificial meat was developed.
The artificial meat issue consists of unstructured problems in uncertainty conditions as scientists are still working on it. It is directly related with the focus group’s interest areas. It came to agenda in the focus group’s interested time period for SSIs. It is a controversial issue from the perspective of Turkish people and people with similar interests and concerns about meat products. Therefore, different from the studies focusing on NOS effect on DM about SSI, in the present study, subject characteristics threat because of the selected SSI was eliminated. Moreover, NOS understandings of the participants were analyzed specifically through the selected SSI. Therefore, the possible risk of a misunderstanding in the interaction between NOS and DM about an SSI due to the possibility of different NOS understandings in different disciplines was eliminated.
In main study, 12 participants’ responses were analyzed and first DM model named the Fractal Model of DM, which reflects real life situation DM process especially referendum case, was constructed. In this model, there are interdependently and simultaneously existing thinking regions, which are ‘goals’, ‘criteria’, ‘alternatives’ and ‘decision’ in order to represent the ordinary people’s thinking system. Appropriate for the spirit of the natural thinking process, ‘decision’ determined by the double way relationships among ‘goals’, ‘criteria’ and ‘alternatives’ which makes it possible to make interpretations which go beyond the previously formed structures where DM steps follow each other. This is also the first model in DM literature which includes fractal geometry. The fractal geometry is the continuation of the theory of chaos and it is used to explain the situation where the inputs become outputs just like in DM. Therefore, the Fractal Model is suitable to be used in more complex issues especially when it is necessary to make a series of decisions as it can provide an ontological change in the steps of DM process. It is possible to see the previous decision itself, for example, as a problem or criterion of a new DM process.
Thus, the present study has tried to approach NOS effects on DM about SSI through a wider perspective as the number and importance level of the SSIs are increasing day by day. Moreover, science teachers are not only ordinary citizens who have responsibility in SSIs but also educators who lead students to take responsibility in SSIs. Therefore, developing in-service educations which include issues about NOS and informed DM about SSIs for science teachers, and developing course programs which cover the relationships between NOS and DM on SSIs for pre-service science teachers are vital to be more prepared for the future world. With SSI selection method –Focus Group interviews– with offered Fractal Model of DM and with the findings through this new DM model, the present study may enable the construction of more efficient programs for teachers and pre-service teachers and then K12 students.
NOS effect on DM about an SSI was still left to be much unexplored with its dynamics as none of the previous studies (e.g., Bell, 1999; Khishfe, 2012) considered DM as a process. This study was the first which covered a referendum situation about an SSI, and in the literature, there were no defined DM structures to explain it. Therefore, grounded theory was needed to be conducted in order to enable systematic discovery of theory from the data (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) and its main emphasis is on the knowledge gained during investigation (Hunter, Hari, Egbu, & Kelly, 2005). For the sake of grounded theory, purposeful sampling was made. At first, focus group interviews were conducted to understand potential participants’ basic social process, basic social psychological process and main concerns related with the studied issue (Galser, 1978; Charmaz, 2006). The sample of the focus group interviews reflected the theoretical sample of grounded theory (Cutcliffe, 2000). Both the focus group and the in-depth interview questions were semi-structured and even after the pilot studies, they evolved from one application to another application (Hancock, Ockleford, & Windridge, 2009). The constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) was conducted with the comparison of data with data, data with codes and codes with codes during not only data collection but also after all data collected. All three codings of grounded theory, which are open coding, axial coding and selective coding represented by Corbin and Strauss (1990), were made through the collected data. Furthermore, several discussions with experts (mainly with three professors on science education at a university) were established for the sake of grounded theory just like Corbin and Strauss (1990) emphasized. In order to conduct a referendum simulation about the artificial meat, a five-part information instrument which includes news, production procedure, and scientists’, worldwide and Turkish opinions was constructed through various internet-based news about the artificial meat in 2011, 2012 and 2013 with 82 semi-structured questions including 22 questions for NOS assessment. In the interviews, there were two ballots: the first one was just after the participants read the news about artificial meat which contains almost no useful information to decide whether the artificial meat should be sold in Turkish markets or not, and the second one was just after all information about the artificial meat was provided for the participants. The interviews took approximately 150 minutes.
After the analysis through the Fractal Model of DM, it was concluded that in DM about the artificial meat, the focused ‘goals’, ‘criteria’ and ‘alternatives’ were different for groups and the linkage between ‘goals’ and ‘decision’ of Group S was weaker. NOS lens usages of five NOS aspects about creativity and imagination, observation and inference, empirical-basis, subjectivity, and social and cultural embeddedness were detected, observation and inference, and empirical-basis also directly affected ‘decision’. The understandings about tentativeness may have a hidden but a determinant effect on DM. Especially Group U sometimes had inconsistent NOS lenses according to their understandings most probably because (i) nobody in Group U had totally unsophisticated understandings (ii) unsophisticated NOS understandings in other NOS aspects may paralyze NOS lens usage for the NOS aspect with sophisticated understandings (iii) some NOS lenses had an unexpected interaction with each other (iv) the nature of SSI may lead to different NOS lens usages from NOS understandings. Moreover, 23 other lens usages were detected. With multiple lens usage, each participant had multi-perspective considerations. Although the lenses animal rights, environmental rights (morality), and societal-benefit (social considerations) were used very frequently by both groups, groups were also different in usages of some other lenses. They were different in their DM strategy, too. Generally, Group U used rational ritualism and Group S used go-for-it approach. However, their final ‘decision’ was same – ‘YES’ for sale of the artificial meat in Turkish markets. Only three participants who had relatively moderate understandings about NOS in their groups were able to proceed a sophisticated DM strategy –mixed scanning– by a proper sophisticated usage of NOS lens about the empirical-basis in their ‘decision’ and their decision was ‘NO’. Therefore, findings of the present study signal that hybrid NOS understandings may lead to a better decision about SSI.
Bell, R. L. (1999). Understandings of the nature of science and decision making on science and technology based issues, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Oregon State University. Khishfe, R. (2012). Nature of science and decision-making. International Journal of Science Education, 34(1), 67-100. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine. Hunter, K., Hari, S., Egbu, C., & Kelly, J. (2005). Grounded theory: Its diversification and application through two examples from research studies on knowledge and value management. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 3(1), 57-68. Glaser, B. G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in the methodology of grounded theory. California: The Sociology Press. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing ground theory. A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage. Cutcliffe, J. R. (2000). Methodological issues in grounded theory. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 31(6), 1476-1484. Hancock, B., Ockleford, E., & Windridge, K. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. The NIHR RDS EM / YH. Retrieved September 17, 2019 from https://www.rds-yh.nihr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/5_Introduction-to-qualitative-research-2009.pdf Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (1990). Grounded theory research: Procedures, canons, and evaluative criteria. Qualitative Sociology, 13(1), 3-21.
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