Localizing Socioscientific Issues and Globalizing Citizen Science Through Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

Localizing Socioscientific Issues and Globalizing Citizen Science Through Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

Bahadir Namdar (Recep Tayyip Erdogan University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9746-9.ch009


Science education has given an increasing amount of attention to incorporating real-life issues into science curricula and engaging students in practices similar to those of scientists, most recently via the fields of socioscientific issues (SSI) and citizen science (CS). Frequently, socioscientific issues focus on globalized problems, while citizen science focuses on localized issues. For meaningful engagement with these two approaches, this chapter advocates for incorporating computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). The chapter introduces and defines SSI, CS, and CSCL. Then, it discusses the major affordances of CSCL to bridge SSI and CS. The author presents three key areas in which CS, the study of SSI, and CSCL environments can work together to cohesively advance both joint and individual purposes. The chapter concludes with a seven-step instructional sequence arguing for localizing SSI and globalizing CS via local and large-scale collaboration.
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Scientific Literacy

One of the fundamental tenets of science education is to cultivate scientifically literate citizens. However, scientific literacy has been defined in many ways. Roberts (2007) identified two visions of scientific literacy. Vision I advocates for science education that focuses on the processes and products of natural science. Vision II envisions science education as a tool to engage students in real-life problem-solving contexts that the students would encounter as citizens. In this chapter, the Vision II perspective is adopted. This perspective encourages students’ engagement in decision-making processes about real-life problems. In turn, the overall goal is preparing citizens of modern societies to be future decision-makers in scientific-technologic endeavors (Sadler, 2011).

Among the many approaches to promoting scientific literacy for all, the “science-technology and society” movement (STS) has been in the spotlight for many years (Aikenhead, 1994). STS is situated around the idea that science curricula should focus on the real and controversial issues that societies face. Therefore, according to this movement, the main objective of science education is to engage students in decision making about science-related, open-ended social problems based on scientific knowledge and taking social action (Tal & Kedmi, 2006). However, this approach was criticized for not engaging students in moral, ethical, and cultural considerations of the issues, and for losing its focus on meaningful engagement in argumentation and nature-of-science considerations (Zeidler, Sadler, Simmons, & Howes, 2005). In other words, the STS movement’s pedagogical applications in science classrooms came under critique. Therefore, researchers have begun to call for new approaches, remodeled to consider students’ moral and ethical development. To that end, the authors of this chapter focus on current socioscientific issues and citizen science approaches. The chapter is mainly a literature review and the surrounding discussion.

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