Socioscientific Issues in Science Education

Socioscientific Issues
in Science Education
An introductory note
José-Antonio Acevedo-Díaz
Socioscientific Issues in Science Education
Socio-scientific issues (SSI) are controversial social issues with
conceptual and procedural relating to science and technology. They
are open-ended problems without clear-cut solutions; in fact, they
tend to have multiple plausible solutions (Sadler, 2004).
The ability to negotiate and resolve controversial technoscientific
issues with social interest –Socio-scientific Issues (SSI) in science
education– is currently considered an essential component of
scientific and technological literacy for all (Sadler, 2011).
The inclusion of SSI in the science curriculum offers a means of
expanding both the curriculum and the range of instructional
practices commonly experienced in the school science classroom.
SSI are used to engage students with science related issues that
allows them to integrate science in daily life issues.
The educative aim of citizenship education through science
education converges to the declared purpose of the SSI movement.
Socioscientific Issues in Science Education
The relationship between science education and values education –or
rather the education for assessing– is manifested more strongly in
controversies about SSI. From this perspective, values education
should focus on the problems of the world today.
Thus, science education should incorporate competences for
negotiating and resolving controversies about SSI (Acevedo, 2006;
Kolstø, 2001; Reis, 2004).
Use of SSI in science education is a powerful resource to promote
scientific and technological literacy (Acevedo et al., 2005; Kolstø
and Mestad, 2005), especially when appropriate treatment
methodologies are used in the classroom (García-Carmona, 2006;
Kolstø, 2000; Martín-Gordillo, 2005; Martín-Gordillo and Osorio,
2003; Reis and Galvão, 2008; Sadler, 2011).
In this way, it contributes to promote the citizen participation to
make decision about technoscientific issues, favoring the
dissemination of scientific and technological culture.
Socioscientific Issues in Science Education
Teaching of SSI places uncertainty and risk at the core of science
teaching. These issues are controversial and lead to debates on the
production of scientific knowledge.
Generally, people not have the tendency to utilize multiple
perspectives to analyze the SSI for themselves. Likewise, they are
more likely to critique the credibility of sources related to
information they disagreed with.
Non-epistemic factors (cultural, social, political, ethical and
religious beliefs, emotions and feelings, interests, values and
rules…) are in the base of reasoning, arguments, and decisions that
people take when facing to SSI. Epistemic elements (scientific
knowledge and epistemology of science) are clearly insufficient.
Factors influencing decisions on SSI
Moral reasoning, ethics, values and norms
Scientific and NOS
Decision making
on SSI
Cultural, social and political beliefs
Emotions and
Socioscientific Issues in Science Education
The SSI movement has built upon other approaches that share the
goal of better preparing learners to engage in discourses and
decisions related to socially relevant issues associated with science.
The most notable of these approaches is the tradition ScienceTechnology-Society (STS) for Science Education, promoting a more
humanistic science education (Vázquez, Acevedo and Manassero,
2005; Vesterin, Manassero-Mas and Vázquez-Alonso, 2014).
Other approaches such as Science-Technology-Society-Environment
(STSE), Education for Sustainability, and context-based Science
Education also have many features in common with the SSI
approach (Sadler, 2011; Zeidler et al., 2005).
Acevedo, J. A. (2006). Relevancia de los factores no-epistémicos
en la percepción pública de los asuntos tecnocientíficos. Revista
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Acevedo, J.
Acevedo, P.,
de la ciencia
Una revisión
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García-Carmona, A. (2006). Interacciones CTS en el aprendizaje
del electro-magnetismo: una experiencia para el desarrollo de
actitudes de responsabilidad. Investigación en la Escuela, 58, 7991.
Kolstø, S. D. (2000). Consensus projects: Teaching science for
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Kolstø, S. D. (2001). Scientific Literacy for Citizenship: Tools for
Dealing with the Science Dimension of Controversial Socioscientific
Issues. Science Education, 85(3), 291-310.
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Martín-Gordillo, M. (2005). Las decisiones científicas y la
participación ciudadana. Un caso CTS sobre investigación biomédica.
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Reis, P. (2004). Controvérsias sócio-científicas: Discutir ou não
discutir? Percursos de aprendizagem na disciplina de Ciências da
Terra e da Vida. Tese de Doutoramento em Didáctica das Ciências,
Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências, Departamento de
Reis, P. & Galvão, C. (2008). Os professores de Ciências Naturais e
a discussão de controvérsias sociocientíficas: dois casos distintos.
Revista Electrónica de Enseñanza de las Ciencias, 7(3), 746-772.
Sadler, T. D. (2004). Informal reasoning regarding socioscientific
issues: A critical review of research. Journal of Research in
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Sadler, T. D. (2011). Situating socio-scientific issues in classrooms
as a means of achieving goals of Science education. In T. D. Sadler
(Ed.), Socio-scientific issues in classrooms. Teaching, learning and
research (pp. 1-9). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
Vázquez, A., Acevedo, J. A. & Manassero, M. A. (2005). Más allá
de una enseñanza de las ciencias para científicos: hacia una
educación científica humanística. Revista Electrónica de Enseñanza
de las Ciencias, 4(2).
Vesterinen, V.-M., Manassero-Mas, M. A. & Vázquez-Alonso, A.
(2014). History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science and ScienceTechnology-Society Traditions in Science Education: Continuities
and Discontinuities. In M. Matthews (Ed.), International handbook
of research in history, philosophy and science teaching (pp. 18951925). Dordrecht: Springer.
Zeidler, D. L., Sadler, T. D., Simmons, M. L. & Howes, E. V.
socioscientific issues education. Science Education, 89(3), 357-377.
Teaching materials for scientific culture
OEI - Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación,
la Ciencia y la Cultura
Containers Iberciencia, on-line