30 ONLINE 25 B, Whole-institution approaches in ESE
MeetingID: 841 0226 6572 Code: KCAB0q
Raising scientific literate students is one of the most prominent goals in science education today (Sadler, 2004). For this purpose, several researchers emphasized that the goal of science education is providing students to comprehend the authentic contexts as well as the scientific concepts and principles (Erduran & Jiménez-Aleixandre, 2007; Roberts, 2007). Since socioscientific issues (SSI) are “complex, open-ended, often contentious dilemmas with no definitive answers” (Sadler, 2004, p. 514), they present an ideal context for achieving scientific literacy by providing students to acquire scientific understandings, develop their character and epistemological beliefs, and develop reasoning, argumentation and decision-making skills (Presley, et al., 2013). When the related problems are controversial, ill-structured and open to multiple solutions, individuals utilize informal reasoning process to generate a position regarding the complex issue. According to Sadler (2004), “informal reasoning involves the generation and evaluation of positions in response to complex issues that lack clear-cut solutions” (p. 514). Therefore, argumentation can be considered as an “external expression of informal reasoning” (Sadler & Zeidler, 2005, p.73).
Since dealing with these ill-structured problems requires developing a position, providing justifications, considering multiple perspectives and evaluating alternatives, negotiation and resolution of ill-structured problems require sophisticated epistemological beliefs (Kitchener, 1983; Schraw et al., 1995). In this manner, personal epistemological beliefs can be defined as individuals’ “beliefs about the definition of knowledge, how knowledge is constructed, how knowledge is evaluated, where knowledge resides, and how knowing occurs” (Hofer, 2002). In the present study, epistemological beliefs refer to “beliefs about nature of knowledge” and “beliefs about nature of knowing” (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997).
In the light of the fact that students’ ability to negotiate of SSIs and accompanying skills such as informal reasoning, engaging argumentation, making informed decisions and having sophisticated epistemological beliefs contribute to scientific literacy, a possible relationship between these variables may be also useful in developing curriculum and directing instructional strategies. In parallel to this rationale, the main purpose of present study is to investigate how well do middle school epistemological beliefs predict their quality of arguments regarding nuclear power plants SSI topic. The reasons behind the selection of this particular SSI topic were the consistency with the Turkish middle school science curriculum, being hot controversial topic in the country, and frequently broadcasting in the mass media. Therefore, the present study addressed the following research questions:
- How well do three dimensions of epistemological beliefs (source/certainty, development and justification) predict middle school students’ quality of argument regarding nuclear power plants SSI topic?
- How much variance in quality of argument can be explained by epistemological beliefs scores on these three dimensions?
Correlational research design was utilized in the present study. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the participants were selected through convenient sampling. The sample consisted of 465 middle school students who voluntarily participated in the study. While 252 of the students (54.2%) were in the 7th grade, 213 of them (45.8%) were in the 8th grade; 212 of the students were female (45.6%), 253 of them were male (54.4%). Before the data collection, approvals from the Human Subjects Ethics Committee and Turkish Ministry of National Education were taken. Then, consent form was signed by both the parents and students themselves. Instrument of the study consisted of a self-reported survey including Demographic Information Form, Epistemological Beliefs Questionnaire (EBQ), SSI Survey developed by the researchers. Demographic information addressed students’ gender and grade level. EBQ developed by Conley et al. (2004) and adapted by Özkan (2008) was used to obtain students’ epistemological beliefs. EBQ includes 26 items in a 5-point Likert scale format ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Cronbach’s alpha values were obtained as 0.82, 0.74, and 0.89 for the dimensions of source/certainty, development, justification respectively. The students’ quality of argument regarding nuclear power plants (NPP) was obtained through open-ended questions asking their argument, evidence, counter-argument and degree of certainty about their decisions as before and after considering the counter-argument. The questions were adapted from Chang and Chiu (2008) and revisions were made by taking expert opinions. During the data collection procedure, students completed the survey either online or face-to-face due to the restrictions of COVID-19 pandemic. The students’ quality of argument was analyzed based on Lakatos’ Scientific Research Programmes (Chang & Chiu, 2008) including hard core (HC), positive heuristics (PH) and negative heuristics (NH). While HC represents the students’ claim and supporting reasons, PH represents extension of their claims, NH represents limitations and counter-arguments of their claims. For each HC, PH, and NH argument 1 point was given. In this way, higher score represented higher quality of argument. All the inter-coder agreements for the coding analyses were greater than 0.80. Finally, multiple regression analyses were conducted to investigate how well middle school students’ epistemological beliefs predict their quality of argument regarding nuclear power plants SSI topic.
Descriptive analysis showed that students displayed the most sophisticated epistemological beliefs on the justification dimension (M=4.11, SD=.68), followed by the dimensions of development (M=3.85, SD=.62) and source/certainty (M=3.71, SD=.64). Based on the analysis regarding argument quality, it can be stated that students were able to generate more than one (M=1.69, SD=.75) claim and supporting reasons (HC). Although students’ both PH and NH scores were found as low, their NH scores (M=.63, SD=.78) were higher than their PH scores (M=.37, SD=.67). That means, students were able to generate counter-arguments relatively more than they extended their own claims by utilizing multiple perspectives. Multiple regression was used to assess the ability of three dimensions of EBQ (source/certainty, development, justification) to predict students’ quality of argument in terms of the ability to extend their own claims and generate counter-arguments (PH and NH scores). Preliminary analyses were conducted to ensure no violation of the assumptions of normality, linearity, multicollinearity and homoscedasticity. When the multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine middle school students’ epistemological beliefs as predictors for PH scores regarding NPP topic, the results indicated that the model including the dimensions of source/certainty, development and justification explained 2.8% of the variance in PH scores with small effect size (f2 = .029). Of these three dimensions, only development made the unique contribution (beta=.164, p < 05). When the multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine middle school students’ epistemological beliefs as predictors for NH scores regarding NPP topic, the results showed that the model including the dimensions of source/certainty, development and justification explained 4.4% of the variance in NH scores with small effect size (f2 = .046). Of these three dimensions, development made the largest unique contribution (beta=.195, p < 05), although source/certainty also made a statistically significant unique contribution (beta=.099, p < 05).
Chang, S.-N., & Chiu, M.-H. (2008). Lakatos' Scientific Research Programmes as a Framework for Analysing Informal Argumentation about Socio-scientific Issues. International Journal of Science Education, 30(13), 1753-1773. doi:10.1080/09500690701534582 Conley, A., Pintrich, P., Vekiri, I., & Harrison, D. (2004). Changes in epistemological beliefs in elementary science students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29, 186–204. Erduran, S., & Jiménez-Aleixandre, M. (2007). Argumentation in Science Education: Perspectives from Classroom-Based Research. Springer. Hofer , B., & Pintrich , P. (1997). The Development of Epistemological Theories: Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing and Their Relation to Learning. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 88-140. Hofer, B. (2002). Personal Epistemology as a Psychological and Educational Construct: An Introduction. In B. Hofer, & P. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal Epistemology: The Psychology of Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing (pp. 3-15). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Kitchener, K. (1983). Cognition, Metacognition, and Epistemic Cognition. Human Development, 26, 222-232. Özkan, Ş. (2008). Modelling Elementary Students' Science Achievement: The Interrelationships Among Epistemological Beliefs, Learning Approaches, and Self-Regulated Learning Strategies. (Doctoral Dissertation), Middle East Tehnical University, Ankara. Presley, M., Sickel, A., Muslu, N., Merle-Johnson, D., Witzig, S., İzci, K., & Sadler, T. (2013). A Framework for Socio-scientific Issues Based Education. Science Educator, 26-32. Roberts, D. (2007). Scientific Literacy/Science Literacy. In S. Abell, & N. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Science Education (pp. 729-780). Sadler, T. (2004). Informal Reasoning Regarding Socioscientific Issues: A Critical Review of Research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(5), 513-536. Sadler, T., & Zeidler, D. (2005b). The significance of content knowledge for informal reasoning regarding socio-scientific issues: Applying genetics knowledge to genetic engineering issues. Science Education, 89(1), 71-93. Schraw, G., Dunkle, M., & Bendixen, L. (1995). Cognitive processes in well-defined and ill-defined problem solving. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 9, 523-538.
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