Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Curriculum & Instruction

Degree Granting Department

Teaching and Learning

Major Professor

Dana L. Zeidler, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Benjamin C. Herman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Benjamin C. Herman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

J. Randy McGinnis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cheryl R. Ellerbrock, Ph.D.

Keywords

Scientific Literacy, Socioscientific Issues, Socioscientific Perspective Taking, Theoretical Inquiry

Abstract

Scientific literacy is concerned with the informed citizens' ability to negotiate scientifically-related societal issues. The suite of skills necessary to negotiate these complex issues is referred to as Socioscientific Reasoning (SSR). SSR requires, among other things, perspective-taking abilities in order to consider the multi-faceted nature of these open-ended, debatable socioscientific issues (SSI). Developing interventions and instruments to foster and measure perspective taking in support of SSR is therefore critical to the promotion of functional scientific literacy through both research and practice. Although widely studied in many disciplines, perspective taking is a particularly tangled construct that has been used to describe a range of activities representing different psychological domains and applied interchangeably with related constructs such as role taking, empathy, and theory of mind. This ambiguity makes it difficult to ensure construct validity and prevents science education researchers from honing in on the precise skills they wish to study and promote. To clarify the construct of perspective taking, this study undertook a conceptual analysis to operationalize perspective taking, drawing comparisons and distinctions between it and related constructs. Further, by applying a method known as conception development, perspective taking was positioned in the context of SSR, particularly as it relates to moral development, in order to devise a more precise construct relating perspective taking to SSR called socioscientific perspective taking (SSPT). It is asserted that SSPT requires engagement with others or their circumstances, an etic/emic shift, and a moral context comprised of reflective and reflexive judgment. Finally, in order to identify promising interventions for promoting SSPT in the science classroom, the newly-developed SSPT construct was applied to a series of extensively researched curricular frameworks that promote perspective taking in three non-science disciplines including historical empathy (social studies education), method acting (theater education), and autism intervention (special education). The aim of this theoretical inquiry was to translate successful perspective-taking interventions into SSI contexts, yielding an array of promising approaches for fostering SSPT while assessing the feasibility of each of these fields as potential sources for novel and expansive work in SSI to promote scientific literacy. Implications for science education research and practice are discussed.

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