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A. Vázquez Alonso1, A. García-Carmona2, M.A. Manassero Mas1

1University of the Balearic Islands (SPAIN)
2University of Seville (SPAIN)
In the last years, nature of science (NOS) has become an important goal in all levels of school science education. Driver et al. (1996) justify the integration of NOS in school science curricula on the basis of the following rational:
i. Utilitarian: understanding NOS is necessary to make sense of science and manage the technological objects and processes in everyday life.
ii. Democratic: understanding NOS is necessary for informed decision-making on socio-scientific issues.
iii. Cultural: understanding NOS is necessary to appreciate the value of science as part of contemporary culture.
iv. Axiological: understanding NOS helps to develop an understanding of the scientific community norms and values that embody moral commitments of general value to society.
v. Science learning: understanding NOS facilitates the learning of science subject matter.
Nevertheless, these reasons are just intuitive, because they have little empirical support (Lederman, 2006). This paper addresses the available empirical evidence on the inclusion of NOS in science education, with special attention to research carried out with students, and how the NOS understanding affect students’ analyses on socio-scientific issues. In synthesis, this research points out that:
1. NOS is not emphasized in the students’ decision-making when analyzing socio-scientific issues.
2. Although students’ ethical and moral reactions use to be diverse and complex, they tend to interpret certain socio-scientific issues (e.g. genetic engineering) from an ethical and moral perspective influenced by affects (attitudes, emotions and intuitions).
3. An adequate understanding of NOS helps to reduce students’ science misconceptions and to avoid their rejection on controversial issues, such as those related to the conflicts between science and religion.
4. Introduction of socio-scientific issues in science classroom favors students’ adequate understandings of science contents, development of positive attitudes toward science, more realistic and adequate vision of science, increased students’ capacity to argue on controversial issues, the development of critical and responsible thinking.
5. Teaching sociological and anthropological NOS considerations related to scientific development allow incorporating social and epistemic norms that can help students appreciate science as an advantaged form of knowledge-production thought they do not become scientists.
The literature supporting these points about NOS and socio-scientific issues will be analyzed and produced in detail at the conference.

Driver, R., Leach, J., Millar, R. Y Scott, P. (1996). Young People’s Images of Science. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
Lederman, N. G. (2006). Research on nature of science: reflections on the past, anticipations of the future. Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 7(1). Retrieved November 12, 2009, from

Research Project SEJ2007-67090/EDUC funded by the Education Ministry (Spain).