Promoting Students’ Critical and Active Engagement in Socio-Scientific Problems: Inter-Trans-National Perspectives

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Book Chapter


There are many potential harms to individuals, societies and environments associated with powerful networks of living, nonliving and symbolic entities (actants), such as financiers, banks, think tanks, transnational trade organizations and agreements, competitiveness, scientists, engineers, universities, governments, military, advertisements, entertainment, etc. Among myriad harms, perhaps the most serious is devastation from climate change linked to fossil fuel uses. Given apparent roles of many governments in supporting powerful problematic networks that involve fields of science and technology, many scholars recommend that school science not only enlighten students about harms and encourage them to make logical personal decisions about associated controversies but also prepare them to take socio-political actions that might contribute to their conceptions of a better world. In this chapter, international science education scholars discuss their uses and analyses of the ‘STEPWISE’ curricular and pedagogical framework—which is intended to facilitate such critical and activist science education. After a theoretical defence of the framework, a description is provided of a teacher’s 3-year efforts to use it in his secondary school science teaching. This is followed by five summaries of theoretical analyses of the framework by scholars from five countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, the UK and the USA), including in terms of discursive psychology, neoliberalism, critical discourse analyses of well-being, inquiry-based learning, professional development and network mobilization in informal (online gaming) and formal school science and teacher education contexts. The chapter concludes with a brief summary of some relative merits of the STEPWISE framework and with a call for continued critical reflective practice.

Publication Title

Bridging Research and Practice in Science Education: Selected Papers From the ESERA 2017 Conference

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