27. International Conference on Educational Sciences (ICES-UEBK) , Antalya, Türkiye, 18 - 22 Nisan 2018, ss.2140-2143
Purpose: Socio-scientific issues (SSI) are controversial, open-ended social problems connected to science conceptually or/and procedurally. SSI is thought to be an ideal context to understand the nature of science for students and teachers. The study investigates the effect of SSI in nature of science (NOS) instruction on preservice science teachers’ nature of science conceptions.
Methodology: The nonequivalent control group design was used in the present study. Two classes of junior preservice science teachers from a large university in southern Turkey were selected by using convenient sampling. One class was assigned as experimental and the other was assigned as control group randomly. There were 34 students in experimental group and 30 students in control group. The study was conducted over seven weeks during Nature of Science and History of Science course taught at the third grade of Science Teacher Education Program. In this study, explicit-reflective NOS instruction approach was administered to both groups; however, SSI were used to teach NOS aspects in the experimental group while NOS learning activities including tricky tracks, tangram, vacuum candle experiment and some science content integrated activities were used to teach NOS aspects in the control group. Views on Science-Technology-Society (VOSTS) including 21 items were used to gather data. VOSTS was administered to both groups as a pretest and posttest to both groups. Answers of preservice teachers to the questionnaire were assigned into a three-category scaling as adequate, plausible and naive. In addition, each question in VOSTS ended with the statements: “I don’t understand” and “None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint” These choices were categorized separately from three categories given above.
Findings: According to the pretest results, the views of the preservice teachers from experimental (50.0%) and the control group (60.0%), for the question about whether the scientists and the scientific research are influenced by religious and moral views of the culture where the investigations take place, which belongs to “ethics” subcategory of influence of society on science category were mostly plausible. After the treatment, some of the answers slipped into adequate view and the similar proportions of increase in adequate views was observed in both experimental (70.6%) and the control group (56.7%). When looking at the answers given to the item under the subcategory “scientific decisions” of social construction of scientific knowledge section, it was observed that experimental (61.8%) and control group students mostly held adequate views before the treatment. However, this proportion of adequate views was increased in experimental group (%73.5) while it was decreased in control group (50%) after the treatment. Though the answers to the item related to “nature of observations” (e.g. theory ladenness, perception bound) which is a subcategory of nature of scientific knowledge section, mostly reflected adequate views for both experimental (55.9%) and control group (73.3%) before the treatment, number of the students holding the adequate view in experimental group (88.2%) increased more than the control group (93.3%) after the treatment. Before the treatment, vast majority of the participants from both experimental (94.1%) and control group (83.3%) held naïve views related to the item categorized under “hypotheses, theories & laws” (e.g., definition, role of assumptions, criteria for belief) being at the same section. However, majority of the participants had adequate view and more students passed to adequate view in experimental group (67.6%) than in control group (60%) after the treatment. Answers to another item belonging to “hypotheses, theories & laws” category were mostly naïve for both experimental (41.2%) and control group (50%) before the treatment while over half of the students from both experimental (52.9%) and control group (56.7%) had adequate views after the treatment. Students in experimental (79.4%) and control group (90.0%) embraced adequate views to an item belonging to “scientific approach to investigations” (e.g., nonlinearity, rejection of a stepwise procedure, "the scientific method" as a writing style) subcategory of the same section before the treatment as though nearly all students in experimental group (97.1%) had adequate views and the number of the students having adequate views at control group did not change after the treatment. For the subcategory “precision & uncertainty in scientific/technological knowledge” (e.g., probabilistic reasoning) of the same section, the answers of experimental group (76.5%) and control group students (83.3%) were adequate before the treatment. On the other hand, adequate views in the experimental group (85.3%) increased while they decreased in the control group (80.0%) after the treatment.
Conclusion: The results indicated that explicit-reflective NOS instruction approach improved NOS understanding of preservice teachers from both experimental and control group in general. Specifically, the result that the adequate views concerning social construction of scientific knowledge increased more in the experimental group than control group after the treatment leads the idea that NOS instruction using SSI promoted the understanding of the effect of sociocultural construct on scientific investigations. Since SSI are controversial and include social and ethical concerns related to scientific investigations, they mediate students to understand the influence of religious and moral views of the culture where the investigations take place. It is difficult for students to understand hypothesis, theory and law. As a matter of fact, the participants of this study held naïve views related to “hypothesis, theories and laws” category of nature of scientific knowledge section before the treatment although more students changed their views and held adequate views in the experimental group compared to the control group after the treatment. Likewise, a noteworthy increase in adequate views related to “scientific approach to investigations” and “precision & uncertainty in scientific/technological knowledge” was detected in experimental group. Due to the open-ended and argumentative nature of SSI, students were able to be involved in argumentations and used socioscientific reasoning; thus, the experimental group students could comprehend the nature of scientific knowledge, the fact that errors lead science to progress and precise estimates are not possible in science more than the control group students.