Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Dana Zeidler, Ph.D.

Keywords

Discourse patterns, Epistemology, Moral and ethical issues, Science education, Secondary education

Abstract

There is a distinct divide between theory and practice in American science education. Research indicates that a constructivist philosophy, in which students construct their own knowledge, is conductive to learning, while in many cases teachers continue to present science in a more traditional manner. This study sought to explore possible relationships between a socioscientific issues based curriculum and three outcome variables: nature of science understanding, reflective judgment, and argumentation skill. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to examine both whole class differences as well as individual differences between the beginning and end of a semester of high school Biology I. Results indicated that the socioscientific issues based curriculum did not produce statistically significant changes over the course of one semester. However, the treatment group scored better on all three instruments than the comparison group. The small sample size may have contributed to the inability to find statistical significance in this study. The qualitative interviews did indicate that some students provided more sophisticated views on nature of science and reflective judgment, and were able to provide slightly more complex argumentation structures. Theoretical implications regarding the use of explicit use of socioscientific issues in the classroom are presented.

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