Students’ Research-Informed Socio-scientific Activism: Re/Visions for a Sustainable Future

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Research in Science Education, ISSN: 0157-244X, Vol: 42, Issue: 1, Page: 129-148

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Bencze, Larry; Sperling, Erin; Carter, Lynette
Springer Nature
Social Sciences; Curriculum and Instruction
article description
In many educational contexts throughout the world, increasing focus has been placed on socio-scientific issues; that is, disagreements about potential personal, social and/or environmental problems associated with fields of science and technology. Some suggest (as do we) that many of these potential problems, such as those associated with climate change, are so serious that education needs to be oriented towards encouraging and enabling students to become citizen activists, ready and willing to take personal and social actions to reduce risks associated with the issues. Towards this outcome, teachers we studied encouraged and enabled students to direct open-ended primary (e.g., correlational studies), as well as secondary (e.g., internet searches), research as sources of motivation and direction for their activist projects. In this paper, we concluded, based on constant comparative analyses of qualitative data, that school students' tendencies towards socio-political activism appeared to depend on myriad, possibly interacting, factors. We focused, though, on curriculum policy statements, school culture, teacher characteristics and student-generated research findings. Our conclusions may be useful to those promoting education for sustainability, generally, and, more specifically, to those encouraging activism on such issues informed by student-led research. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.