What Major “Socio-Scientific Topics” Should the Science Curriculum Focused on? A Delphi Study of the Expert Community in China

  • Yanlan Wan
  • Hualin BiEmail author


Science and technology play an important role in the development of human society. Thus, science education should reflect the trend of social development and prepare students to think about and make wise decisions on major social topics related to science. As an aspect of the societal dimension of science, socio-scientific topics (SSTs) have a great influence on social development. In order to prepare students to participate in modern social life effectively, shape the society in a sustainable way, and become responsible citizens in the future, what major SSTs should science curriculum relevant to students and the society focus on? In this study, the famous forecasting method, the Delphi method, was used to explore the above-mentioned question. Thirty-three experts who came from Chinese universities and scientific research institutes were invited to make effective decisions based on the backgrounds of social development and students’ all-round development demands during a three-stage Delphi process. The results showed that six level-one SSTs that referred to the generalized and superior socio-scientific fields and thirty corresponding level-two SSTs that referred to their specific and inferior topics achieved consensus and should be emphasized in the science curriculum. The six level-one SSTs are “environmental issues,” “safety and health,” “resources and energy,” “ecological system,” “biotechnology,” and “new materials.” It is believed that the conclusion is helpful to promote the development of students’ key competencies and can provide advice and enlightenment for science curriculum reform all over the world.


Delphi method Frontiers of science Science curriculum Socio-scientific issues Socio-scientific topics 



We would like to thank Xiufeng Liu, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Bing Wei, the University of Macau, who encouraged and advised on this paper. Any opinions, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding sources.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Social Science Foundation of China (BHA140081).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringQingdao UniversityQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Science and Technology Education Research CenterShandong Normal UniversityJinanChina

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