Examining the relationships between socio-scientific reasoning, content knowledge, and personal interest
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Socio-Scientific Issues (SSI) appear to be a viable means for promoting students' development of science literacy, providing relevance to scientific concepts for students to apply their understandings and make sense of science-related issues. However, the question remains as to how their reasoning competencies regarding these issues interact with their content knowledge and personal interest. The purpose of this study is to explore and examine the relationships among Socio-Scientific Reasoning (SSR) competencies and between SSR and Content Knowledge and Personal Interest of students as they engage in a series of SSI. A total of one hundred and thirty students completed three sets of Quantitative Assessments of SSR (QuASSR), personal interest surveys and summative science unit tests. Correlation analysis and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) were used to elucidate relationships between SSR and Content Knowledge and Personal Interest across three SSI scenarios. The results of the analysis revealed that students' SSR competencies varied across three different SSI scenarios. Students showed greater their SSR competencies in the Vaccinations scenario than in the Global Warming and Genetically Modified Organisms scenarios. The analysis also revealed that SSR competencies have interactions with cognitive and affective domains, in which lower-order Content Knowledge and Personal Interest have a significant impact. Particularly, the level of Personal Interest in each SSI might have a large effect on the increasing level of SSR. This study highlights that SSR is a dynamic multi-dimensional construct and influenced by Content Knowledge and Personal Interest across three different SSI contexts. These findings have implications for science teachers when they want to develop meaningful SSI scenarios to support SSR development and to integrate SSI into a science course with diverse topics. In addition, the SSR conceptual framework employed and findings in this study would be helpful for science education researchers who want to find a better way to support students’ success in scientific literacy. Limitations of this study and recommendations for future research are also discussed in this dissertation.
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