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A Teacher’s Perspective on Socioscientific Issues

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Part of the Contributions from Science Education Research book series (CFSE,volume 10)

Abstract

A key focus of the Science|Environment|Health pedagogy is the integration of controversial and challenging topics which indicate a social or moral dilemma and are important as well as realistic for the individual and/or society. Science education research literature often refers to these issues as socioscientific issues. This chapter provides the narrative reflection of an Austrian biology teacher working with students aged 15–17 years old on her attempt to implement socioscientific issues (abortion, vaccination, antibiotics and veganism) in her everyday classroom teaching. It shares her perspectives on using socioscientific issues and her practice-based experiences on designing learning environments. Qualitative data (anonymised transcripts of group discussions, interviews and essays; teaching journal) indicates that the students dealt with some issues more easily, whereas they perceived others as more difficult and, in general, seemed uninvolved or effortless. Reasons to explain these observations are discussed. These include aspects of the specific school conditions, the perceived relevance of the issues and lived experience and teacher as well as student knowledge. In order to meet the challenges described in this chapter, teachers as well as researchers need an understanding of the context-, culture- and site-specific aspects of socioscientific issues.

Keywords

  • Instruction
  • Teacher education
  • Curriculum

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Acknowledgements

I express my sincere gratitude to my students for participating in this study. I also wish to thank Julia Kohler, Julia Thaler, Anna Blasbichler, Lena Piok and Larissa Theiner for supporting data collection, Suzanne Kapelari for valuable discussions about data interpretation, and Tore van der Leij, Albert Zeyer and Regula Kyburz-Graber for their insightful suggestions and careful reading of the manuscript. This research was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.

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Correspondence to Susanne Rafolt .

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Rafolt, S. (2021). A Teacher’s Perspective on Socioscientific Issues. In: Zeyer, A., Kyburz-Graber, R. (eds) Science | Environment | Health. Contributions from Science Education Research, vol 10. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-75297-2_9

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