Secondary science teachers' use of socioscientific issues in the teaching and learning of chemistry
Cole, Gerri Lynn
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Socioscientific issues (SSI) can serve as a basis for designing lessons that provide opportunities for students to make informed decisions about the world around them. Through the use of interpretive research and case study methods, this study aimed to explore why secondary chemistry teachers incorporated socioscientific issues into the curriculum and how their beliefs influenced the way in which they planned for and enacted socioscientific issues in their teaching of high school chemistry. Data included interviews, direct observations, and the collection of documents and archival records. Inductive analysis was used to reveal themes from the data collected. The findings of the study shed light on the following themes: (1) personal experiences were influential in the incorporation of socioscientific issues-based lessons, (2) SSI topics were chosen by the secondary chemistry teachers in order to maintain control of their classes and curriculum, (3) teachers’ attempts to foster socioscientific reasoning in secondary classrooms sometimes led to disconnections between the SSI issue presented and chemistry, and (4) secondary chemistry teachers’ uses of SSI were mediated by their beliefs that students should become informed decision makers. Implications from this study include the following: (1) teachers who included socioscientific issues-based lessons believed that chemistry was more than a content-driven subject, (2) socioscientific issues-based lessons were used as a way to get rid of the stigma that chemistry is irrelevant, (3) teachers who incorporated socioscientific issues-based lessons understood the complexities of chemistry and therefore believed it was important for students to also understand these complexities, (4) teachers who incorporated socioscientific issues-based lessons were willing to wrestle with the uncertainties of SSI-lesson outcomes, and (5) teachers who incorporated socioscientific issues-based lessons were confident and flexible in their practice.