How do I do it?
It has been suggested in the literature (Kolstoe, 2000, 2001; Dimopoulos and Koualidis 2002), that students need to acquire the following skills and knowledge in order to engage with socio-scientific issues;
‘(a) sound knowledge of the main relevant concepts,
(b) awareness of the internal mechanisms of the techno-scientific knowledge production process,
(c) awareness of the claims made by both expert and non-expert social actors in terms of their vested interests and their underpinning moral, religious, political, or other values, and finally
(d) identification of legitimate sources of expertise that can be addressed in cases where expert advice is required.’
(Dimopoulos and Koualidis 2002)
Ratcliffe and Grace (2003) identified specific learning goals, for example they considered to be vital in preparing students to engage with socio-scientific issues. The conceptual knowledge required would include learners to demonstrate understanding of the way in which scientists come up with theories, how they collect and report the data and how their findings are reviewed. The procedural knowledge that students should learn can include how to evaluate evidence, in particular from media reporting, ethical reasoning and cost-benefit analysis. As far as attitudes and beliefs are concerned students should be able to identify their own personal and community values and ‘recognise how these values and beliefs are brought to bear, alongside other factors, in considering socio-scientific issues’ Ratcliffe and Grace (2003).
Students should have the opportunity to examine the different sides to these socio-scientific issues because as previously mentioned there are no ‘right’ answers. Especially with issues such as GM crops, there is no scientific reason for these crops being grown, although, some may argue, there are economic or political reasons. So there is not actually a ‘right’ answer, whether the crops should be grown, there are many points of view that need to be taken into consideration in order to come to a decision. In his book, ‘six thinking hats’ Bono (1990) suggests a technique which could enable students to do this. In groups, students put on one of six different coloured hats and consider different points of view, for example when wearing the white hat, the students need to consider the facts and other objective information about the issues, the yellow hat is worn when considering the positive points and the black cap the negative points. This technique could offer the opportunity for the students to examine all the different point of views
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