99 ERC SES 03 J, Didactics: Learning and Teaching
Socioscientific issues (SSIs) are controversial issues including societal, moral and ethical dilemmas (Zeidler, Sadler, Simmons, & Howes, 2005). These issues are scientific issues presenting open-ended social problems such as cloning, genetically modified foods which result from biotechnological improvements and such as global climate change, nuclear power plant which cause environmental challenges (Sadler & Zeidler, 2005). As scientific and technological improvements increased, the controversial issues including social problems have been increasing. Therefore, SSIs took place in science education with the aim of providing students to be good decision-makers about possible solutions of these controversial issues, encouraging their moral and intellectual development (Zeidler et al., 2005).
Since SSIs include ill-structured problems, informal reasoning is proper for the process of decision-making on these issues rather than formal reasoning (Sadler & Zeidler, 2005). Researchers used different frameworks while assessing participants’ informal reasoning (Fang, Hsu, & Lin, 2019). While many researchers focused to assess informal reasoning quality when dealing with participants’ reasoning on SSIs (e.g. Zohar & Nemet, 2002), there are also researchers only focused on specifying participants’ informal reasoning modes (e.g. Sadler & Zeidler, 2005). Different from these frameworks, the framework of Wu and Tsai (2007) investigates both informal reasoning quality and informal reasoning modes. Examining both informal reasoning quality and modes is important because there are findings showed the variety of reasoning modes is related with informal reasoning quality. For example, Wu and Tsai (2007) found that the individuals who generated highly qualified informal reasoning benefited from more various reasoning modes in their arguments so they mentioned the usage of various informal reasoning modes may contribute to the informal reasoning skills. That’s why in the present study, the framework of Wu and Tsai (2007) was preferred and the first research question was determined as (1) “Is there a relationship between the varieties of eighth grade students’ reasoning modes and the quality of their informal reasoning on SSIs?”.
Moreover, since socioscientific issues are also composed of scientific knowledge, the understanding about nature of scientific knowledge and informal reasoning on SSIs are related to each other. There are researchers hypothesizing that nature of science (NOS) understanding provides students with qualified informal reasoning on SSIs (e.g. Zeidler et al., 2005). However, in the studies investigating the relationship between NOS understanding and SSIs, some researchers focused on certain tenets of NOS instead of all tenets of NOS. For example, in their study, Zeidler, Walker, Ackett and Simmons (2002) focused on tentativeness, empirically-based, subjectivity, creativity and cultural-social embeddedness tenets of NOS. Since the findings of the study of Zeidler et al. (2002) showed that tentativeness, empirically-based, and subjectivity are related with the reasoning on SSIs, some researchers recently focused on only these three tenets to examine the possible relationship more deeply (e.g. Khishfe, Alshaya, BouJaoude, Mansour, & Alrudiyan, 2017). Therefore, the present study also focused on tentativeness, empirically-based, and subjectivity tenets of NOS to examine possible relationships of these tenets with informal reasoning on SSIs. Since there are very few studies investigating the relationship between SSIs and NOS understanding in the literature (Tezel & Günister, 2018), examining the relationship between these two variables is important. Thus, the second and third research questions were determined as (2) “Is there a relationship between eighth grade students’ NOS understanding level and the quality of their informal reasoning on SSIs?” and (3) “How well do the three tenets of NOS understanding (empirical-based, subjectivity and tentativeness) predict eight grade students’ informal reasoning quality on SSIs?”
The study utilized correlational research approach and it was conducted with 414 8th grade students in four different public middle schools of Turkey in Ankara, Altındağ in the fall semester of 2019-2020 education year. Convenience sampling and purposeful sampling were used in this study. Altındağ district was conveniently selected because of easy transportation and time limitation of master program. Purposeful sampling was used while including only 8th grade students. Since 8th grade is the last level of middle school education, these students are expected to have already achieved most of the objectives and goals of science curriculum for middle schools. Background information about participants was collected by demographic information. The participants’ NOS understanding was determined through VNOS-E questionnaire developed by Lederman and Ko (2004) and translated into Turkish by Doğan, Çakıroğlu, Çavuş, Bilican and Arslan (2010). The questionnaire originally consists of seven open-ended questions supposed to measure the understanding of students on specific NOS tenets which are tentativeness, empirical-based, subjectivity, creativity and the difference between observation and inference. However, in the present study, only three tenets tentativeness, empirical-based and subjectivity were assessed so six open-ended questions of VNOS-E were included to assess these three tenets. The participants’ informal reasoning was determined through Informal Reasoning on Socioscientific Issues Questionnaire which consisted of three scenarios (global warming, acid rain, genetically modified foods) taken from the study of Khishfe et al. (2017) along with open-ended questions taken from the study of Wu and Tsai (2007). The scenarios were translated and adapted by the researchers of the present study and the questions translated, adapted and used by Ozturk and Yilmaz-Tuzun (2017) in their study. The researchers ensured that the instruments were reliable and valid by following reliability and validity processes. Data obtained from the questionnaires were analyzed qualitatively first. After qualitative analyses, Pearson correlation analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between students’ NOS understanding level and quality of informal reasoning on SSIs and the relationship between the varieties of informal reasoning modes and informal reasoning quality. Also, multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine how well tenets of NOS understanding predict informal reasoning quality. In order to conduct these statistical analyses, the researchers converted these qualitative data into quantitative by using the framework developed by Wu and Tsai (2007) for informal reasoning and rubric developed by Akerson and Donnelly (2010) for NOS.
The results of descriptive statistics about students’ NOS understanding revealed that most of the students (about 58%) held inadequate level of NOS understanding in total, which corroborated the previous research studies which discovered students hold naïve NOS understanding (e.g. Dogan & Abd-El-Khalick, 2008). The results of descriptive statistics about students’ informal reasoning in SSIs revealed that really few students constructed rebuttal which was assigned as indicator of high quality of informal reasoning by some researchers (e.g. Wu & Tsai, 2007). This finding is consistent with the findings of previous research studies (e.g. Wu & Tsai, 2007). Findings of correlation analyses revealed that in each SSI and in total, there was statistically significant and positive correlation between informal reasoning quality and varieties of informal reasoning modes, which is consistent with the finding of Wu and Tsai (2007). Moreover, there were statistically significant and positive correlations between students’ NOS understanding scores and their informal reasoning quality scores in each SSI and in total. This finding is consistent with the findings of previous research studies (e.g. Khishfe et al., 2017; Ozturk & Yilmaz-Tuzun, 2017). The results of multiple regression analyses revealed that all three tenets of NOS understanding made statistically significant contributions to the prediction of informal reasoning quality score in global warming issue, genetically modified food issue and informal reasoning quality score in total. On the other hand, only empirical-based and tentativeness tenets made statistically significant contributions to the prediction of informal reasoning quality score in acid rain issue. The finding is consistent with previous studies investigating both epistemological beliefs or NOS understanding and informal reasoning on SSI (e.g. Ozturk & Yilmaz-Tuzun, 2017). Thus, it was concluded that there was statistically significant relationship between NOS understanding and informal reasoning in SSIs.
Akerson, V. L.,& Donnelly, L. A. (2010). Teaching nature of science to K-2 students: What understandings they can attain? International Journal of Science Education, 32(1), 97-124. DOI: 10.1080/09500690902717283 Dogan, N.,& Abd-El-Khalick, F. (2008). Turkish grade 10students’ and science teachers’conceptions of nature of science: A national study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(10), 1083-1112. DOI: 10.1002/tea.20243 Doğan, N., Çakıroğlu, J., Çavuş, S., Bilican, K. ve Arslan, O. (2010). Bilimin doğası hizmetiçi eğitim programına katılan öğretmenlerin sınıf içi uygulamalarının öğrenci görüşlerine etkisi. IX. Ulusal Fen Bilimleri ve Matematik Eğitimi Kongresi (23-27 Eylül 2010), Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, İzmir. Fang, S. C., Hsu, Y. S.,& Lin, S. S. (2019). Conceptualizing socioscientific decision-making from a review of research in science education. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 17, 427-448. DOI: 10.1007/s10763-018-9890-2 Khishfe, R., Alshaya, F. S., BouJaoude, S., Mansour, N.,& Alrudiyan, K. I. (2017). Students’ understandings of nature of science and their arguments in the context of four socio-scientific issues. International Journal of Science Education, 39(3), 299-334. DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2017.1280741 Lederman, J. S.,& Ko, E. K. (2004). Views of Nature of Science, Form E. Unpublished paper. Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. Ozturk, N.,& Yilmaz-Tuzun, O. (2017). Pre-service science teachers’ epistemological beliefs and informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues. Research in Science Education, 47(6), 1275-1304. DOI: 10.1007/s11165-016-9548-4 Sadler, T. D.,& Zeidler, D. L. (2005). Patterns of informal reasoning in the context of socioscientific decision making. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(1), 112-138. DOI: 10.1002/tea.20042 Tezel, Ö.,& Günister, B. (2018). Sosyobilimsel konu temelli fen öğretimi üzerine Türkiye’de yapılan çalışmalardan bir derleme. Eskişehir Osmangazi Üniversitesi Türk Dünyası Uygulama ve Araştırma Merkezi (ESTÜDAM) Eğitim Dergisi, 3(1), 42-60. Wu, Y. T.,& Tsai, C. C. (2007). High school students’ informal reasoning on a socio‐scientific issue: Qualitative and quantitative analyses. International Journal of Science Education, 29(9), 1163-1187. DOI: 10.1080/09500690601083375 Zeidler, D. L., Sadler, T. D., Simmons, M. L.,& Howes, E. V. (2005). Beyond STS: A research-based framework for socioscientific issues education. Science Education, 89(3), 357-377. DOI: 10.1002/sce.20048 Zeidler, D. L., Walker, K. A., Ackett, W. A.,& Simmons, M. L. (2002). Tangled up in views: Beliefs in the nature of science and responses to socioscientific dilemmas. Science Education, 86(3), 343-367. DOI: 10.1002/sce.10025 Zohar, A.,& Nemet, F. (2002). Fostering students' knowledge and argumentation skills through dilemmas in human genetics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(1), 35-62. DOI: 10.1002/tea.10008
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