Preparing students to achieve the lofty goal of functional scientific literacy entails addressing the normative and non‐normative facets of socioscientific issues (SSI) such as scientific processes, the nature of science (NOS) and diverse sociocultural perspectives. SSI instructional approaches have demonstrated some efficacy for promoting students' NOS views, compassion for others, and decision making. However, extant investigations appear to neglect fully engaging students through authentic SSI in several ways. These include: (i) providing SSI instruction through classroom approaches that are divorced from students' lived experiences; (ii) demonstrating a contextual misalignment between SSI and NOS (particularly evident in NOS assessments); and (iii) framing decision making and position taking analogously—with the latter being an unreliable indicator of how people truly act. The significance of the convergent parallel mixed‐methods investigation reported here is how it responds to these shortcomings through exploring how place‐based SSI instruction focused on the contentious environmental issue of wolf reintroduction in the Greater Yellowstone Area impacted sixty secondary students' NOS views, compassion toward those impacted by contentious environmental issues, and pro‐environmental intent. Moreover, this investigation explores how those perspectives associate with the students' pro‐environmental action of donating to a Yellowstone environmental organization. Results demonstrate that the students' NOS views became significantly more accurate and contextualized, with moderate to large effect, through the place‐based SSI instruction. Through that instruction, the students also exhibited significant gains in their compassion for nature and people impacted by contentious environmental issues and pro‐environmental intent. Further analyses showed that donating students developed and demonstrated significantly more robust and contextualized NOS views, compassion for people and nature impacted by contentious environmental issues, and pro‐environmental intent than their nondonating counterparts. Pedagogical implications include how place‐based learning in authentic settings could better prepare students to understand NOS, become socioculturally aware, and engage SSI across a variety of contexts.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ;
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