Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 342–352 | Cite as

Using the SEE-SEP Model to Analyze Upper Secondary Students’ Use of Supporting Reasons in Arguing Socioscientific Issues

  • Nina Christenson
  • Shu-Nu Chang RundgrenEmail author
  • Hans-Olof Höglund


To achieve the goal of scientific literacy, the skills of argumentation have been emphasized in science education during the past decades. But the extent to which students can apply scientific knowledge to their argumentation is still unclear. The purpose of this study was to analyse 80 Swedish upper secondary students’ informal argumentation on four socioscientific issues (SSIs) to explore students’ use of supporting reasons and to what extent students used scientific knowledge in their arguments. Eighty upper secondary students were asked to express their opinions on one SSI topic they chose through written reports. The four SSIs in this study include global warming, genetically modified organisms (GMO), nuclear power, and consumption. To analyse students’ supporting reasons from a holistic view, we used the SEE-SEP model, which links the six subject areas of sociology/culture (So), environment (En), economy (Ec), science (Sc), ethics/morality (Et) and policy (Po) connecting with three aspects, knowledge, value and personal experience (KVP). The results showed that students used value to a greater extent (67%) than they did scientific knowledge (27%) for all four SSI topics. According to the SEE-SEP model, the distribution of supporting reasons generated by students differed among the SSI topics. Also, some alternative concepts were disclosed in students’ arguments. The implications for research and education are discussed.


Socioscientific issues Informal argumentation Scientific literacy Scientific knowledge The SEE-SEP model Holistic view 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Christenson
    • 1
  • Shu-Nu Chang Rundgren
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hans-Olof Höglund
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyKarlstad UniversityKarlstadSweden
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and Biomedical SciencesKarlstad UniversityKarlstadSweden

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