Socio-scientific issues in education : innovative practices and contending epistemologies

Robottom, Ian 2011, Socio-scientific issues in education : innovative practices and contending epistemologies, Research in science education, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 95-107, doi: 10.1007/s11165-011-9258-x.

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Title Socio-scientific issues in education : innovative practices and contending epistemologies
Author(s) Robottom, Ian
Journal name Research in science education
Volume number 42
Issue number 1
Start page 95
End page 107
Total pages 13
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publication date 2011-09-09
ISSN 0157-244X
Keyword(s) environmental education
education for sustainability
socio-scientific issues
Summary In the past decade, we have seen the well-established discourse of environmental education (EE) supplanted by that of education for sustainability (EfS). In some ways this change in terminology has been no more than a slogan change, with the actual educational practices associated with EfS little changed from those qualified by EE (Campbell and Robottom 2008). Environment-related education activities under both terms frequently focus on socio-scientific issues – which serve as the chief organising principle for a range of related curriculum activities – and are shaped by the particular characteristics of these issues. Socio-scientific issues are essentially constituted of questions that are philosophical as well as empirical in nature. Socio-scientific issues consist in contests among dissenting social, economic and environmental perspectives that rarely all align, giving rise to debates whose resolution is not amenable to solely scientific approaches. Socio-scientific issues, then, exist at the intersection of differing human interests, values and motivations and are therefore necessarily socially-constructed. An adequate educational exploration of these issues requires a recognition of their constructedness within particular communities of interest and of the limitation of purely applied science perspectives, and, in turn, requires the adoption of curricular and pedagogical approaches that are in fundamental ways informed by constructivist educational assumptions – at least to the extent that community constructions of socio-scientific issues are recognised as being shaped by human interests and social and environmental context. This article considers these matters within the context of examples of environment-related practice drawn from two geographical regions. The article will argue that a serious scientific element is both necessary and insufficient for a rigorous educational exploration of socio-scientific issues within either the EE or EfS discourses, and will consider some implications for professional development and research in this field.
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/s11165-011-9258-x
Field of Research 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio Economic Objective 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2011
Copyright notice ©2011, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Education
Higher Education Research Group
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