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Factors of success of SSI Regarding classroom discussions : a cross-case study

Pedro Reis
p. 67-80

Résumés

Plusieurs chercheurs et programmes nationaux font appel à la discussion des questions socio-scientifiques dans l’enseignement des sciences, en raison de leur potentiel pour créer une image plus réelle et humaine de l’activité scientifique et pour promouvoir les compétences essentielles à une citoyenneté active et responsable. Cependant, ces activités ne font pas partie de nombreux cours de science, même lorsque les questions socio-scientifiques sont comprises dans le contenu des programmes et que les enseignants valorisent la discussion de ces questions.
Cet article présente des analyses croisées de quelques-unes des données obtenues par une série d´études de cas en profondeur centrée sur les pratiques de classe des enseignants de biologie et de sciences naturelles portugais. Il vise à identifier les facteurs qui influencent positivement la discussion de questions socio-scientifiques dans leurs classes.
Les douze études de cas en profondeur ont été développées par le même chercheur pendant une période de six ans et en utilisant les mêmes procédures méthodologiques.
L´analyse de cas croisés démontre que l´implémentation de ces activités de discussion dépend de façon décisive des conceptions que les enseignants ont  relativement à l’enseignement des sciences, au curriculum, de la citoyenneté et de la pertinence pédagogique des activités.

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Texte intégral

Theoretical Background

1Classroom discussion-based practices can be sorted into (or combine) three broad approaches: the discussion of controversial issues, problem solving and roleplay (Cowie and Rudduck, 1990). All these approaches resort to the exploration and expression of ideas, opinions and experiences in an environment of collaboration as a way to promote learning. Through these approaches, the entire group resources are mobilized with the shared aim of increasing knowledge, understanding a given subject or solving a problem.

2The socio-scientific issues referred to in this study consist of controversies related to interactions between science, technology and society (namely those raised by the possible social impacts of scientific and technological proposals) that divide the society and for which different groups of citizens put forth explanations and possible solutions that are incompatible, based on alternative beliefs, understandings and values (Oulton, Dillon and Grace, 2004; Levinson, 2006). These issues do not lead to simple conclusions and often they involve a moral, ethical dimension (Sadler and Zeidler, 2004).

3Some researchers and national curricula call for the discussion of socioscientific issues in science education because of its potential for creating a more real, humane image of scientific activity and for promoting competences essential to an active and responsible citizenship (Kolstoe, 2001; Millar and Hunt, 2002). They consider that the understanding of what science is and how it is produced is crucial for citizens’ participation and involvement in the evaluation of science and technology: a key element of democratic societies. Several studies have shown the usefulness of the classroom discussion of socio-scientific issues both in terms of science learning (its contents, processes and the nature) and in terms of the students’ cognitive, social, political, moral and ethical development (Hammerich, 2000; Kolstoe, 2001; Millar, 1997; Author, 1997; Sadler, 2004).

4However, only some science teachers implement these activities, even when the socio-scientific issues comprise the curricular content. The discussion of socioscientific issues in schools depends on several elements: a) teachers’ management skills related to classroom discussions; b) teachers’ knowledge about the nature of science and the sociological, political, ethical and economic aspects of those issues; c) evaluation systems that value the discussion of socio-scientific issues (Levinson and Turner, 2001; Newton, 1999; Author and Other, 2004; Stradling, 1984).

5Studying the factors of success regarding classroom discussions of socioscientific issues provides crucial information for the design of intervention processes capable of supporting teachers in the planning and implementation of such activities and, consequently, in attaining the goals of science curricula.

Methodology

6This paper presents a cross-case analysis of ten in-depth case studies, centred on Portuguese biology teachers with a wide range of teaching experience and working contexts (Table 1). The cross-case analysis intends to identify factors that influence positively the discussion of socio-scientific issues in their class. All the teachers were working in secondary schools from Lisbon area and belonged to a group that had already collaborated with the researcher on other studies. The names presented here are fictitious in order to preserve the participants’ privacy. All the analysed cases were centred on school subjects that didn’t have the pressure imposed by national examinations at the end of the school year. When these case studies were developed, the national examination was taking place only at the end of the 12th grade (just before the application to the university). So, none of the cases was develop with teachers involved in that subject.

Table 1 : Participant teachers’ experience and working contexts

Name

Teaching experience

(years)

Subject/classes observed
by the researcher

Students’ age

Amélia

19

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Catarina

3

“Natural Sciences” (9th grade)

14-15

Cristina

33

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Gabriela

19

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Inês

5

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Júlia

24

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Madalena

33

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Paulo

3

“Natural Sciences” (7th grade)

12-13

Rita

8

“Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology” (11th grade)

16-17

Sónia

24

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

7The analysed case studies were developed (and published individually or in very small clusters), during the last decade, under a line of research and intervention aimed at supporting the implementation, in Portugal, of new science curricula that call for the discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues as a way of preparing students for an active, informed participation in society. These in-depth case studies were developed by the same researcher and followed the same methodology, involving the triangulation of information gathered through semi-structured interviews and classroom observation. The interviews were audiotaped in school by the researcher before and after the observation of a sequence of successive classes (between ten and sixteen 50 minutes periods for each teacher).

8Three semi-structured interviews were carried out for each case study. The first interview took place at the start of the school year and sought to gather evidence about the teacher’s conceptions regarding: a) the nature of scientific and technological knowledge; b) biology teaching and learning; and c) recent controversial issues related to science and technology. Its content included questions regarding the following dimensions: Professional experience; Attended professional development initiatives on effective methods of engaging students in STS issues; Characteristics of the context where he or she teaches; Self-concept as a Biology and Natural Science teacher; Conceptions about teaching and learning; Conceptions about the nature of science and technology; and Conceptions about controversial issues related to science and technology. The second interview was conducted shortly before the observation of a set of classes (between 10 and 14 periods of 50 minutes for each teacher) and aimed at promoting a discussion with the teacher about the intent of the observed lessons. Its content included the following questions: 1) What are the general objectives/aims of the unit?; 2) Describe the activities planned for the unit; 3) What are the objectives of each of the planned activities?; 4) What reasons led you to choose these activities instead of others?; 5) What difficulties are you expecting to find? Do you expect your students to experience some difficulty? Explain your answer. The third interview was carried out after the classes sequence and intended to promote reflection about its implementation (results reached, difficulties, successes, etc.) and the reasons behind the pedagogical options. This last interview was based on a sequence of questions, aimed at promoting the evaluation of the observed classes by the teacher: 1) Are you happy with the way your classes ran? How do you evaluate your classes?; 2) Did they go according to plan? Were objectives met?; 3) Was students’ behaviour/reaction suitable? (If NOT: When? Why? What are the causes?; If SO: Describe their behaviour. Why do you say it was suitable?); 4) Next time you address these issues will you do anything different? Why?; 5) With what finality/objectives did you carry out the activity…?

9The observed sequence of classes (planned and implemented by the participating teacher) always focused on topics considered by each teacher (during the first interview) suitable to address socio-scientific issues. The observation was designed to identify activities and approaches used by the teacher in addressing these topics. However, it is important to underline that the teachers were not aware of the reasons underlying the observation of these specific classes or of the specific aims of the study: the researcher only informed the participants that he intended to study the teaching of biology subject. In this manner, they were not induced into choosing a certain classroom activity or methodology. The researcher always adopted the role of direct, non-participant observer. The observation didn’t follow a strict observation schedule. However, special attention was paid to implemented activities, social interactions, teachers’ and students’ role during the activities, and students’ engagement level (notes were taken in relation to these aspects and the time spent on each classroom activity was recorded).

10The combined use of observation and interviews provided a substantial amount of information about the way each teacher thinks and acts, and allowed the researcher to assess the level of consistency between the interviewee’s discourse and his or her real classroom practices.

11Both classroom observation notes and full transcriptions of the interviews were subjected to content analysis, which sought to extract the implicit conceptions about several aspects under study. This kind of analysis involved the classification of meaningful elements, according to certain categories that could bring order to the apparent disorder of the raw data. The category construction process was influenced by the aims and theoretical background of the study regarding teachers’ conceptions about (1) teaching and learning, (2) the nature of science and technology, (3) controversial issues related to science and technology, (4) the discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues as classroom methodology.

12Initially, all data were analysed separately by different researchers from the same research group. Following this, the results of the analysis were compared and all discrepancies were discussed and resolved by agreement among all the researchers.

13The cross-case analysis of the ten in-depth case studies was centred on the complete set of data previously collected, with the aim of identifying factors that influence positively the classroom discussion of socio-scientific issues. Due to space restrictions, this paper only presents some results of that analysis, discussing the possible influence of the factors “Conceptions about science education”, “Conceptions about curriculum” and “Conceptions about citizenship”. These conceptions were used as a framework for comparing and generalizing the empirical results of the ten cases. Cross-case analysis makes it possible to build a logical chain of evidence for the relationships studied on the basis of the framework (Yin, 1994 ; Miles and Huberman, 1994).

14Cross-case analysis is a research method that can mobilize knowledge from individual case studies. This mobilization of case knowledge occurs when researchers accumulate case knowledge, compare and contrast cases, and in doing so, produce new knowledge (Khan & VanWynsberghe, 2008). So, this study analyzes data across all of the cases in order to identify similarities and differences in the ways teachers address socio-scientific issues in their classes and the justifications/reasons they provide for those practices. The identification of similarities and differences seeks to provide further insight into the factors of success regarding classroom discussions of SSI issues.

Results

15Due to space restrictions, the cases are condensed and displayed in a metamatrix by fields of interest (the factors in study) in a form that allows a systematic visualization and comparison of all the cases at once (Miles & Huberman) (figure 2). This variable-oriented approach to cross-case comparison pays greater attention to the variables across cases rather than the case itself. Variables are compared across cases in order to detect possible factors that may have led to particular outcomes (Khan & VanWynsberghe, 2008). Through this variable-oriented approach to crosscase analysis, focused on the identification of themes across cases, less attention is pay to the contextual details of each case (Ayres, Kavanaugh & Knafl, 2003).

16As previously mentioned, all Portuguese school science subjects invite teachers to address socio-scientific issues in their classes. The cross-analysis of the ten in-depth case studies shows that, despite the differences in teaching experience and working contexts, all the participant teachers address those issues in their classrooms. However, the way they do it varies considerably, affecting the educational potentialities of the implemented activities.

17Some teachers (Amélia, Júlia and Sónia) (see table 2) consider that science curricula are extensive and do not allow the necessary time to promote structured discussions about SSI. So, their approach to such issues is generally limited to the presentation of these topics (by the teacher) followed by answers to some questions put forward by the students. For example, Júlia, after a 15 minutes presentation (of the different types of cloning, its applications and some potential risks of animal cloning) and another 10 minutes answering to some questions, informed her students that: “We have talked enough about this subject [cloning]. We could spend many lessons on this subject, but we don’t have the time...” (6th lesson). Also Amélia, during her third interview, considers that “The extension of the science curricula makes very difficult to implement discussion or experimental activities. We don’t have enough time”.

18These teachers admit there is a potential for building up and exchanging content knowledge about the socio-scientific issues that are discussed, but they disregard other suggestions put forward by research, notably the ethical development of students, the development of argumentative capacities and the analysis and evaluation of information. In these cases, classroom observation showed that too much emphasis was put on the scientific content, which was viewed as an aim in itself and was taught with little mention of its importance or of the context in which it was or is produced. The main objective of classroom activities was learning a body of knowledge which is currently accepted by the scientific community, without any reference to the context and the process involved in the creation of such concepts. Contrary to what is set out in the science curricula, these teachers are mainly concerned with imparting a body of knowledge, leaving any consideration about the nature of science and the interrelations between science, technology and society as a mere footnote of their classes. In theses cases, teachers resort to the controversial dimension of SSI as way to facilitate the appropriation of content knowledge.

19Teachers that have more difficulties implementing discussion activities about SSI (Amélia, Catarina, Júlia and Sónia) tend to perceive the curriculum as a list of topics which must be covered thoroughly and without any deviation from the course (Figure 2), ignoring, for example, any pointers the curriculum offers regarding the discussion of SSI as a way to promote the understanding of the nature of science and the interactions between Science, Technology and Society. The explicit focus on enhancing certain skills or attitudes is virtually ignored. Their relationship with the science curricula is merely one of acting out, without any concern in reconstructing it or putting it into context so as to facilitate the development of skills (considered socially relevant) in the groups of students with whom they work.

20In the cases where the discussion of SSI is more easily integrate in the classrooms (Cristina, Inês, Madalena, Paulo and Rita), teachers resort to these activities as a way to develop students’ knowledge about science (its’ contents, nature and processes) and to promote cognitive, social and moral competences they consider indispensable for citizenship (Figure 2). These teachers look upon science and technology as human, complex, dynamic activities, involving values, and therefore creating differences in opinion among citizens (controversy) according to their beliefs and principles. They believe that socio-scientific issues cannot be solved merely on a technical basis, because they involve other dimensions: hierarchies of values, social pressures, financial issues, etc. In their opinion, controversy and discussion are part of science and technology. These teachers’ classroom practice is influenced by: a) a conception of science education focused both on knowledge construction and on the development of skills (e.g. information collection, analysis and interpretation; argumentation; problem solving) and attitudes (e.g. respect, tolerance, democracy) required for citizens’ intellectual autonomy and for exercising their citizenship; and b) an understanding of the curriculum allowing for levels of decision-making suited to the needs of society :

(...) It is also important that they prepare themselves to take part in debates. (...) So the subject is important in itself, but so is another thing: the ability to work as a team on a particular subject to obtain data with which they can later argue (...) and base their ideas on. I think this is very important. I think this is a life lesson, not just a lesson in Biology.
Cristina (Interview 3)

The discussion of controversial issues related with science and technology, both in the media and in the school, creates a more critical society, makes citizens become more critical and demanding, and it can help to avoid future unethical uses of science and technology.
Inês (Interview 3)

I truly believe that (…) by discussing these issues, we are trying to help the student find his/her own path, not my path nor the next-door neighbour’s path. The research and the discussion of socio-scientific controversies help students to define their own value system and assume full citizenship.
Madalena (Interview 2)

[Controversial issues]are part of our lives, we live with them, encounter them, so it’s best we have an idea about them, I mean, be informed people and with the information we have, manage to produce our own opinions about them (…). We’re going to make citizens participate more and more, be more active, but they can only participate and be more active (…) if they have some knowledge about the issues and if they’ve got some grasp of that area. (…) Nowadays everyone’s talking about education for citizenship and I think that education for citizenship is about making individuals intervene more, be more active in society at large, regarding all that goes on in society.
Paulo (Interview 3)

21All these teachers assume a role of curriculum constructors that stresses the possibility for teachers to manage content and choose the educational experiences according to the needs of society, students’ specific characteristics and the unique contexts in which they live. In line with the latter, these teachers refuse an image of science as a catalogue of terms, facts and theories that the students must memorise and repeat in tests, and they are completely against a conception of science education limited to the “reception” of science. They assume the role of curriculum constructors (and not just consumers/executors) and are more concerned with how to develop specific competencies that they consider relevant than with the lengthy curricular contents themselves. So, conceptions about the curriculum (and not the curriculum itself) seem to emerge as an important inhibitor/stimulator of the attention teachers pay to the discussion of socio-scientific issues.

22Other teachers (Gabriela and Sónia), despite their willingness to implement discussion activities about SSI (and their conviction about the educational potential of these activities), see their efforts compromised by their lack of pedagogical knowledge regarding the conception and management of classroom discussions in a way that fosters students interaction and involvement. Teachers’ strong personal beliefs (regarding the importance of promoting the discussion of controversial socio-scientific issues and explicitly addressing aspects of the nature of science), together with their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, the aims of science education and the strategies to carry it out, allow them to overcome any obstacles to the implementation of discussion activities about socioscientific issues. A strong knowledge about science (its contents, nature and processes) associated with a pedagogical knowledge about how to manage and assess classroom discussions are important factors to succeed with those activities. Teachers’ beliefs and professional knowledge grant them a remarkable capacity to interpret the curriculum so as to address the topics and carry out the activities they consider important and relevant. As Rita said during her first interview :

(…) [Controversial socio-scientific issues] are linked to a vast array of topics, they fit in anywhere, the teacher just has to want and know how [to approach them]! For instance, I can talk about cloning when I teach Biomolecules, the Cell, Genetics or Evolution. (…) Biology is all interrelated, in fact I think everything’s related to Biology (…) there’s always room to fit this in [discussion of controversial issues] and there’s always time.»

23Another interesting finding is that the ability to implement classroom discussions about socio-scientific issues seems to be not exclusive to those who have most teaching experience (Figure 2). The cases of Inês, Paulo and Rita (with 5, 3 and 8 years of experience) suggest this.

24In all the five cases where the discussion of SSI was more successfully implemented, teachers share an idea of children and young people as social actors in their own right, and not merely objects of socialisation. Madalena is particularly engaged in stimulating and supporting her students in social and environmental action. Accordingly to the ideas of Hodson (1998), she invites her students to use their scientific knowledge and personal competences in sociopolitical action centred in problems/issues that students select as socially relevant. Every year, her students conduct a research (with her support) on a controversial issue related with science and technology and organize a discussion session (at the City Hall) open to the general community. In general, these sessions involve the participation of specialists (chosen and invited by the students) with different backgrounds and opinions, in order to foster a thorough discussion about each issue. All the discussion is actively and entirely managed by the students. In Paulo’s case, his students are also involved in the social and environmental action, mainly through the organization of discussions (centred on controversial issues related with science and technology) with colleagues from other classes. Both Cristina and Inês believe that students must be empowered to discuss and to act through a classroom environment, based on interest and respect (and not power), that values the expression of different opinions and stimulates/supports students’ action. Rita believes that students are very effective in bringing the controversies they discuss in the classroom to their homes. So, she stresses their important role as active citizens, involving their families in the discussion of issues they consider socially relevant. Through these practices, young adolescents are considered as a “citizen now”, as opposed to a “citizen becoming” (Invernizzi and Williams, 2009).

Conclusions

25The cross-analysis of the ten in-depth case studies shows that the successfully implementation of classroom discussions of socio-scientific issues seems to be strongly associated with the teachers’ conceptions about: a) the educational relevance of these activities; b) science education; c) curriculum; and d) citizenship. The implementation of these activities is not exclusive to those who have most teaching experience and depends on the teachers’ convictions about the educational relevance of such activities and the knowledge needed for their design, management and assessment.

Figure 2 : Case studies meta-matrix

Name

Teaching experience

(years)

Subject/classes observed by the researcher

Students’
age

How teachers address socio-scientific
issues in the classroom

Teachers’ Conceptions

Science Education

Curriculum

Citizenship

Amélia

19

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

“Science curricula are extensive and do not allow the necessary time to promote structured discussions about SSI.”

“The approach to SSI is limited to brief discussions of news from the media in order to detect distorted or wrong ideas about science and technology.”

“Science education is necessary for the appropriation of content knowledge necessary for all citizens (e.g. about human body and health) and also knowledge necessary for further studies at the university.”

Teacher as curriculum consumer or executor.

Curriculum as a list of topics that must be covered thoroughly and without any deviation from the course.

Students as future citizens.

The main role for students is to learn knowledge in order to become able to exercise citizenry.

School as a special context for future citizens education.

Catarina

3

“Natural Sciences”
(9th grade)

14-15

SSI are addressed in reaction to students’ questions about specific issues.

The approach to SSI is limited to teacher’s answers/explanations to students’ questions.

There isn’t a real research or a discussion about a SSI.

SSI are addressed as a way to facilitate knowledge appropriation.

“Science education is necessary to understand the world and the complex net of interactions between its different elements (geological, biological, etc.) and to promote attitudes of respect and preservation for the environment.”

To transmit the necessary knowledge to understand the media news related with science and technology.

Teacher as curriculum consumer or executor.

Curriculum as a list of topics that must be covered thoroughly and without any deviation from the course.

Students as future citizens.

The main role for students is to learn knowledge in order to become able to exercise citizenry.

School as a special context for future citizens education.

Cristina

33

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Proposes SSI discussion activities as a “context and a pretext to develop students’ competences (information gathering and analysis, discussion, decision making and activism)”.

The discussion is controlled and maintained mainly by the students (she doesn’t present herself as an authoritative source of knowledge in the classroom).

Promotes a climate of reciprocity of respect for each participant opinions

“Science education is necessary to prepare students for life.

And to empower students for active participation in society.”

Teacher as curriculum builder (and not just consumer or executor).

Finds the place and the time for the educational activities she considers relevant.

Children and young people as social actors in their own right.

Students must be empowered to discuss and to act through a classroom environment, based on interest and respect (and not power), that values the expression of different opinions and stimulates/supports students’ action.

Gabriela

19

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

“The research and the discussion of SSI provide students with the necessary information to understand those issues.”

Proposed the research and the discussion of a SSI, but “had some difficulties organizing the activity in a way that motivated students.”

Science education allows the development of knowledge and cognitive competences, necessary to understand controversial issues related with science and technology, through the students’ active involvement in a variety of educational activities.

Teacher as curriculum builder (and not just consumer or executor).

Finds the place and the time for the educational activities she considers relevant.

Students as future citizens.

The main role for students is to learn the knowledge and develop the competences necessary to become a full citizen.

Inês

5

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Sometimes, SSI are discussed spontaneously accordingly to students’ requests. Other times, she proposes more organized discussions based on videos about SSI.

The discussion of SSI allows the development of: a) knowledge about relevant scientific and technological topics; b) attitudes of activism about environmental issues; and c) competences of information analysis and discussion necessary for citizenship.

“Science education allows the development of knowledge and several competences (cognitive, social and moral) through the students’ active involvement in a variety of educational activities.”

Teacher as curriculum builder (and not just consumer or executor).

“Teacher has always the possibility to adapt the curriculum in order to address topics that students’ consider interesting and socially relevant.”

Children and young people as social actors in their own right.

“Students must be empowered to discuss and to act through a classroom environment, based on interest and respect (and not power), that values the expression of different opinions and stimulates/supports students’ action.”

Júlia

24

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

“Science curricula are extensive and do not allow the necessary time to promote structured discussions about SSI.”

The approach to SSI is limited to brief presentations of these topics by the teacher followed by answers to some questions put forward by the students.

“The discussion of SSI has a potential for building up and exchanging scientific and technological knowledge about the topics in question.”

“To transmit knowledge necessary for students to understand nature and the events/news related with science and technology.”

Teacher as curriculum consumer or executor.

Curriculum as a list of topics that must be covered thoroughly and without any deviation from the course.

Students as future citizens.

The main role for students is to learn knowledge in order to become able to exercise citizenry.

School as a special context for future citizens education.

Madalena

33

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

The research and the discussion of SSI “as a way to promote a critical attitude towards science and technology and to develop students’ intellectual autonomy and moral development”

Invites “students to use their scientific knowledge and personal competences in sociopolitical action centred in problems that students select as socially relevant.”

The researches and the discussions are actively and entirely managed by the students (with teachers’ support).

To contribute to “the individual’s education, as an intervening and responsible citizen,” promoting “a path of pursuit, research, curiosity and questioning that should always arise, a critical spirit”.

Teacher as curriculum builder (and not just consumer or executor).

“There are some topics that allow the discussion of several (more or less related) SSI.”

“Children and young people are social actors in their own right.”

“Students must be engaged and supported in social and environmental action.”

Paulo

3

“Natural Sciences” (7th grade)

12-13

Involves his “students in social and environmental action, mainly through the organization of discussions (centred on controversial issues related with science and technology) with colleagues from other classes.”

Science education contributes to students “education as citizens, namely by promoting the development of an attitude of constant inquiry regarding the World”.

Science education enables us “to better understand where we live, how we live and what we live for.”

Teacher as curriculum builder (and not just consumer or executor).

“There are some topics that allow the discussion of several SSI.”

“Students have an important role as active citizens, involving their colleagues from other classes in the discussion of issues they consider socially relevant.”

Rita

8

“Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology” (11th grade)

16-17

SSI are approached in several ways. Sometimes she simply clarifies students’ doubts regarding a given matter. Sometimes, these issues are the pretext for undertaking research on the Internet, discussions and debates. “Usually the students’ level of curiosity and interest determines which strategy to choose.”

“Prepares people to make the best of their lives and understand everything that surrounds them.”

“Science education is extremely important for students’ cultural and intellectual development and for the construction of a scientific culture.”

Teacher as curriculum builder (and not just consumer or executor).

“Teacher can always find the time and the place to address SSI.”

“Students are very effective in bringing the controversies they discuss in the classroom to their homes. So, they have an important role as active citizens, involving their families in the discussion of issues they consider socially relevant.“

Sónia

24

“Biology and Geology” (11th grade)

16-17

Feels difficult to find the time for SSI discussion because of the science curricula extension.

However, she tries to involve her students in the discussion of SSI, but have great difficulties managing her students during this type of activity.

Considers that all citizens must be informed about these issues because of their possible impact on citizens’ life.

“Science education is part of citizens’ culture and allows them to understand the evolution of science and technology.”

“Allows the development of more environmental friendly attitudes.”

Tries to change her conception of curriculum (as a list of topics that must be covered thoroughly), but with little success.

Students as future citizens.

The main role for students is to learn knowledge and develop attitudes necessary for future citizenry.

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Pedro Reis, « Factors of success of SSI Regarding classroom discussions : a cross-case study », Les dossiers des sciences de l’éducation, 29 | 2013, 67-80.

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Pedro Reis, « Factors of success of SSI Regarding classroom discussions : a cross-case study », Les dossiers des sciences de l’éducation [En ligne], 29 | 2013, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2013, consulté le 29 juin 2017. URL : http://dse.revues.org/119 ; DOI : 10.4000/dse.119

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Pedro Reis

Professeur et sous-directeur à l’Instituto de Educação de Universidade de Lisboa / Assistant Professor and Sub-Director, Institute of Education : University of Lisbon. pgreis@ie.ul.pt

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