1 CIDTFF – Research Centre on Didactics and Technology in the Education of Trainers (PORTUGAL)
2 UTAD - University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (PORTUGAL)
3 Polytechnic Institute of Porto - School of Education (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3934-3943
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0833
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
One of the main goals of Science Education is to contribute to increase students’ scientific literacy, ensuring that more citizens can apply this knowledge in their daily lives [1]. In the last two decades, the Socioscientific issues (SSI) approach has been proven to be effective in promoting scientific literacy, increasing scientific knowledge, sensitivity to ethical, social and moral issues, the ability to understand diverse perspectives, sense of responsibility, active engagement in knowledge construction and a deep understanding of the central ideas of science [2]. Although, little research has been done on the application of this approach at the early elementary school level. The few existing studies report that SSI-based learning is important because it allows students to connect scientific knowledge to social issues, laying a valid foundation for more complex reasoning and understanding in their future scientific learning [3]. On the other hand, elementary school teachers feel more comfortable in implementing SSI in classroom because they usually teach across subjects [4]. However, these teachers may face some concerns in implementing this approach, similar to those already reported by teachers at higher grade levels, such as the lack of pedagogical knowledge and the unavailability of teaching materials [5]. Given this, it is important to identify in the curricula opportunities to explore SSI in order to be able to design ways of empowering elementary school teachers. To achieve this goal, in our work we i) conducted a literature review to inform the development of a framework to identify and categorize SSI, and ii) applied the framework as categories of analysis to identify opportunities to explore SSI in the Portuguese curriculum from 1st to 6th grade. The literature review performed led us to the development of a framework with four categories of analysis, issues related to biotechnology, health, environment and exobiology, each with its own subcategories. Our findings shows that the Portuguese official documents present 33 opportunities for students to engage in SSI-based learning, most of them related to environmental issues and in smaller number health-related issues. Issues related to biotechnology or exobiology were not found. These results may inform the development of future research and educational proposals focused on these education levels. Future work should extend the literature review to enhance the constructed framework of analysis, allowing for the identification of opportunities to explore SSI in any curriculum and among other teaching support materials.

[1] NRC (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
[2] Zeidler et al. (2019). New directions in socioscientific issues research. Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research, 1(1), 1-9.
[3] Chen, L., & Xiao, S. (2020). Perceptions, challenges and coping strategies of science teachers in teaching socioscientific issues: A systematic review. Educational Research Review, 100377.
[4] Zangori et al. (2018). Exploring elementary teachers’ perceptions and characterizations of model-oriented issue-based teaching. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 29(7), 555–577.
[5] Tidemand, S., & Nielsen, J. A. (2017). The role of socioscientific issues in biology teaching: From the perspective of teachers. International Journal of Science Education, 39(1), 44–61.
Socioscientific issues, Science Education, Elementary school, Curricula analysis.