Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Curriculum & Instruction

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Dana L. Zeidler, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Benjamin Herman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Benjamin Herman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Patricia Jones, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janet Richards, Ph.D.

Keywords

ethical, evidence-evaluation, moral issues, science education

Abstract

The discrepancy between what students are being taught within K-12 science classrooms and what they experience in the real world has been well documented. This study sought to explore the ways a high school biology curriculum, which integrates socioscientific issues, impacts students' emotive reasoning and their ability to evaluate evidence, make informed decisions on contemporary scientific dilemmas, and integrate scientific content knowledge in their reasoning on SSI. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to examine differences within and between an SSI treatment group and a comparison group as well as individual differences among students' responses over a semester of high school biology. Results indicated students used emotions largely to evaluate evidence and make decisions on contentious scientific dilemmas. In addition, the results showed students used newly gained scientific content knowledge to make logical predictions on contentious scientific issues. Statistical significance was found between groups of students in regard to their interest in the use of embryonic stem cell treatments to restore rats' vision, as well as students' abilities to evaluate evidence. Theoretical implications regarding the use of SSI in the classroom are presented.

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