Discussing ethical issues in school science: An investigation into the opportunities to practise and develop arguments offered by online and face-to-face discussions

J Wishart, DJ Green, MV Joubert, PA Triggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
385 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Recent changes in UK science curricula mean that it is now expected that pupils are taught about socio‐scientific applications and implications of science; however, finding time to incorporate associated discussions and to set up forums for debate is challenging for teachers. This paper reports on a project to investigate different approaches to engaging students in argument and discussion including online debate outside lesson time. The project involved incorporating different types of discussion into sixth form (students aged 16–17) biology lessons. An opportunity sample of six experienced teachers and their classes (totalling 84 students) was recruited. In all, five online discussions between schools, one online within school discussion and four face‐to‐face discussions were analysed for their quality of argument. Results indicate that, within this sample, the dialogue in online discussions demonstrated higher levels of argumentation than those in face‐to‐face discussions. Students in the face‐to‐face discussions volunteered less evidence to support their arguments and were less likely to challenge each other’s points. Students reported they learned slightly more from online discussion than from face‐to‐face discussion; this was confirmed by their teachers. Whilst this study is clearly limited by size and the unanticipated events within school that limited the amount of data collected, it was concluded that online discussion is worth further investigation by education practitioners. It offers opportunities to bring students together across time and space to practise justifying and defending their point of view.
Translated title of the contributionDiscussing Ethical Issues in School Science: An investigation into the opportunities to practise and develop arguments offered by online and face-to-face discussions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47 - 69
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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