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Research in Science Education

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 253–274 | Cite as

A Pedagogical Model for Ethical Inquiry into Socioscientific Issues In Science

  • Kathryn J. SaundersEmail author
  • Léonie J. Rennie
Article

Abstract

Internationally there is concern that many science teachers do not address socioscientific issues (SSI) in their classrooms, particularly those that are controversial. However with increasingly complex, science-based dilemmas being presented to society, such as cloning, genetic screening, alternative fuels, reproductive technologies and vaccination, there is a growing call for students to be more scientifically literate and to be able to make informed decisions on issues related to these dilemmas. There have been shifts in science curricula internationally towards a focus on scientific literacy, but research indicates that many secondary science teachers lack the support and confidence to address SSI in their classrooms. This paper reports on a project that developed a pedagogical model that scaffolded teachers through a series of stages in exploring a controversial socioscientific issue with students and supported them in the use of pedagogical strategies and facilitated ways of ethical thinking. The study builds on existing frameworks of ethical thinking. It presents an argument that in today’s increasingly pluralistic society, these traditional frameworks need to be extended to acknowledge other worldviews and identities. Pluralism is proposed as an additional framework of ethical thinking in the pedagogical model, from which multiple identities, including cultural, ethnic, religious and gender perspectives, can be explored.

Keywords

Socioscientific issues Ethical thinking Pedagogical model Pluralism Scientific literacy 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Curtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia

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