Socio-Scientific Inquiry-Based Learning: Possibilities and Challenges for Teacher Education

  • Ruth Amos
  • Marie-Christine Knippels
  • Ralph LevinsonEmail author
Part of the Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education book series (CTISE, volume 52)


This study explores the implementation of a pedagogical approach for teaching through socially responsible inquiry embedded in socio-scientific issues, during pre-service science teachers’ initial training. We outline the components of an educational model to support Socio-Scientific Inquiry-Based Learning (SSIBL), which was developed iteratively with science teachers and teacher educators during the four-year European Union PARRISE project. Opportunities for learning and teaching through SSIBL are explored in three European science national curricula in England, the Netherlands and Sweden. We present case studies which highlight the experiences of pre-service science teachers co-designing and teaching SSIBL activities. We then discuss those experiences through thematic analysis of lesson designs, resources and reflective accounts. Pre-service teachers established opportunities for SSIBL within key global development themes such as health. They reported successful promotion of engaged learning, particularly when students pose inquiry questions with local and personal relevance. Taking action as a result of active awareness-raising about socio-scientific issues was achieved through informed personal choice and relaying findings to various key audiences. Challenges associated with curriculum constraints and the general pressures on pre-service teachers when developing a range of pedagogical approaches in their early careers were apparent. There is a need for science education to incorporate socially responsible inquiry embedded in contemporary socio-scientific issues.


Pedagogy Socially responsible inquiry Teacher education Democratic citizenship Science education 



The research leading to these results is part of the PARRISE project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 612438. In particular, we would like to thank colleagues Christina and Katerina Ottander at Umea University, Sweden, for providing information on the Swedish science curriculum, and Michiel van Harskamp at Utrecht University for his support in designing the figures. Our thanks also go to all the pre-service and experienced science teachers who worked with us during the project, giving their time and valuable feedback on the SSIBL model.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Amos
    • 1
  • Marie-Christine Knippels
    • 2
  • Ralph Levinson
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.University College London, Institute of EducationLondonUK
  2. 2.Freudenthal Institute, Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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