, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 1147-1163
Date: 18 Jun 2011

Students’ Experience of Working with Socioscientific Issues - a Quantitative Study in Secondary School

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Abstract

This research project aims to investigate how students in lower secondary school experience work with socioscientific issues (SSI). The six socioscientific cases developed and used in this project are relevant according to characteristics of SSI and to the national curriculum. Approximately 1,500 students in Sweden have worked with one SSI case chosen by the teachers. A questionnaire-based instrument was used to measure the affective domain of students’ attitudes towards and interest in science before starting to work with the case and a second questionnaire after finishing a case. The second student questionnaire, measured the situational characteristics of the SSI work and perceived cognitive and affective outcomes. According to the students’ self-reported experience, all cases were interesting and related to a current issue. Most cases were equally interesting to boys and girls, the only exception was You are what you eat, which girls found more interesting than boys did. Almost all students claim that they learnt new facts, learnt to argue for their standpoint and to search and evaluate information during the work with the cases. The girls’ average scores were higher on several aspects of learning outcomes. Furthermore the students, especially the girls, perceived that the outcome of working with SSI had relevance for their future, with some cases more relevant than others. The more interesting the student found the case, the more they claimed they learnt. The students do not, however, claim that they learnt more science than during ordinary lessons.

The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council and started in 2007. The research group called SISC (Science in Social Contexts) consists of Britt Lindahl and Maria Rosberg at Kristianstad University, Christina Ottander, Eva Silfver and Mikael Winberg at Umeå University, and Margareta Ekborg, Malin Ideland, Claes Malmberg and Agneta Rehn at Malmö University (www.sisc.se).