The development and implementation of a heuristic for teaching reflective scientific skepticism within a socio-scientific issue instructional framework
Science ideas are frequently miscommunicated or distorted. In our digital age, a social media post may provoke an emotional response triggering a cascade of replies that spread misinformation about a socio-scientific issue such as a disease outbreak, genetically modified foods, or vaccine safety. Other times, as in the case of climate change denial, science ideas may be deliberately distorted in order to manipulate public opinion toward a special interest group's agenda. Citizens need functional scientific literacy that includes reflective scientific skepticism in order to navigate these hurdles. This multiple manuscript dissertation draws from a comprehensive review of the literature from diverse academic fields and proposes a heuristic for fostering the development of reflective scientific skepticism. The heuristic informed the curriculum development and instruction for a high school class studying contemporary socio-scientific issues. Using a multiple methods approach, I explored student development of reflective scientific skepticism in the context of the generation and communication of science knowledge within this class. Students showed gains in both socio-scientific reasoning, generally, and in reflective scientific skepticism, specifically. Findings informed further revision of the heuristic. Implications for instruction and research are discussed.