Scientific Literacy in Environmental and Health Education

  • Rodger W. Bybee


Grand challenges for this age set the stage for this chapter. Because many challenges are directly related to the environment and health, one must ask a question that introduces the theme of scientific literacy—“What is important for citizens to know, value, and be able to do relative to the environment, health, and science-related issues?” The chapter continues with a review of results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2006 science survey. The discussion includes a definition of scientific literacy, presentation of results for students’ attitudes toward selected environmental issues, and students’ interests in selected health issues. The chapter concludes with implications for enhancing scientific literacy using environmental and health contexts.


  1. Bloom, B. R. (2010, May 14 ). Support for global health. Editorial. Science, 328, 791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bybee, R. (1979a). Science education and the emerging ecological society. Science Education, 63(1), 95–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bybee, R. (1979b). Science education for an ecological society. American Biology Teacher, 41(3), 154–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bybee, R. (1979c). Science education policies for an ecological society: Aims and goals. Science Education, 63(2), 245–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bybee, R. (1991). Planet earth in crisis: How should science educators respond? American Biology Teacher, 53(3), 146–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bybee, R. (1997). Achieving scientific literacy: From purposes to practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  7. Bybee, R. (2008). Scientific literacy, environmental issues, and PISA 2006: The 2008 Paul F-Brandwein lecture. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17, 566–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bybee, R. (2010). The teaching of science: 21st century perspectives. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bybee, R., & Mau, T. (1986). Science and technology related global problems: An international survey of science educators. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23(7), 599–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bybee, R., & McCrae, B. (2011). Scientific literacy and student attitudes: Perspectives from PISA 2006 science. International Journal of Science Education, 33(1), 7–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bybee, R., McCrae, B., & Laurie, R. (2009). PISA 2006: An assessment of scientific literacy. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(8), 865–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bybee, R., Taylor, J., Gardner, A., Van Scotter, P., Powell, J., Westbrook, A., & Landes, N. (2006). The BSCS 5E instructional model: Origins, effectiveness, and applications. Colorado Springs, CO: BSCS.Google Scholar
  13. Coussens, C. (Ed.). (2009). Global environmental health: Research gaps and barriers for providing sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene services. Workshop Summary. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies PressGoogle Scholar
  14. DeBoer, G. (1991). A history of ideas in science education: Implications for practice. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  15. Duschl, R. A., & Grandy, R. E. (Eds.). (2008). Teaching scientific inquiry. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Fensham, P. (2000). Time to change drivers for scientific literacy. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, 2, 9–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fensham, P. (2009). Real world contexts in PISA science: Implications for context-based science education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(8), 884–896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Flick, L. B., & Lederman, N. G. (Eds.). (2004). Scientific inquiry and nature of science. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  19. Goldman, L., & Coussens, C. (Eds.). (2004). Environmental health indicators: Bridging the chasm of public health and the environment. Workshop Summary. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  20. Goldstein, B., Fischhoff, B., Marcus, S., & Coussens, C. (Eds.). (2003). Ensuring environmental health in postindustrial cities. Workshop Summary. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  21. Holdren, J. (2008, January 25). Science and technology for sustainable well-being. Science, 319, 424–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hurd, P. D. (1958). Science literacy: Its meaning for American schools. Educational Leadership, 16(1), 13–16.Google Scholar
  23. McCarthy, J. (2009, December 18). Reflections on: Our planet and its life, origins, and futures. Science, 236, 1646–1655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McComas, W. F. (Ed.). (1998). The nature of science in science education. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  25. McCrae, B. J. (2009). What science do students want to learn? In R. W. Bybee & B. J. McCrae (Eds.), PISA Science 2006: Implications for science teachers and teaching (pp. 149–162). Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association.Google Scholar
  26. Omenn, G. (2006, December 15). Grand challenges and great opportunities in science, technology, and public policy. Science, 314, 1696–1704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2009). Green at fifteen: How 15-year-olds perform in environmental science and geoscience in PISA 2006. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  28. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2006). Assessing scientific, reading and mathematical literacy: A framework for PISA 2006. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  29. Osborne, J. (2007). Science education for the twenty first century. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 3(3), 173–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Osborne, J., & Collins, S. (2001). Pupils’ views of the role and value of the science curriculum: A focus-group study. International Journal of Science Education, 23(5), 441–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Reid, W. V., Chen, D., Goldfarb, L., Hackmann, H., Lee, Y. T., Mokhele, K., & Whyte, A. (2010, November, 12). Earth system science for global sustainability: Grand challenges. Science, 330, 916–917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Roberts, D. (2007). Scientific literacy/science literacy. In S. K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 729–780). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  33. Schreiner, C., & Sjøberg, S. (2004). ROSE (The relevance of science education). University of Oslo, Research Council of Norway. Science Education, 63(2), 245–255.Google Scholar
  34. Shen, C., & Tam, H. P. (2008). The paradoxical relationship between student achievement and self-perception: A cross-national analysis based on three waves of TIMSS data. Educational Research and Evaluation, 14(1), 87–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sjøberg, S., & Schreiner, C. (2005). How do learners in different cultures relate to science and technology? Results and perspectives from the project ROSE (The Relevance of Science Education). Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 6(2), Foreword.Google Scholar
  36. UNESCO. (2003). UNESCO and the international decade of education for sustainable development (2005–2015). UNESCO International Science, Technology & Environmental Education Newsletter, XXVII(1–2).Google Scholar
  37. UNESCO. (2005). International implementation scheme for the UN decade of education for sustainable development. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  38. Zhu, C. (2010, March 19). Science-based health care. Science, 327, 1429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS)Colorado SpringsUSA
  2. 2.International Conference, Environment & Health in Science EducationUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations