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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Features of students’ responses to a socioscientific issue presented in print and on video Ojelel, Alfred Charles


In recent years there has been increasing interest among science educators on the need to discuss science-related social issues in science classrooms. This study explores the features of students' responses to one science-related social issue (referred to as a socioscientific issue) presented in print and video formats. In the study, Grade 10 students either read a newspaper-type article or watched a video on the issue of the use of animals in scientific and biomedical research. Through semi-structured interviews, students were asked to abstract and frame the central issues in the story and to specifically identify the different points of view discussed in the story. Students were also asked to give their own points of view on the issues. And afterwards, a second, related story that attempted to make the issues more personally relevant was read to students. The features of students’ responses to this socioscientific issue across these areas were explored. Contemporary information processing theories on the comprehension and response to television and print material formed a theoretical perspective for analyzing the data. The findings of this study reveal interesting features of students’ responses by the presentation format of the story and by the gender of the respondents. Responses from students who watched the video story, when compared to those from students who read the print story tended to be rather superficial, more empathic to animals, and were sometimes framed more or less to describe a chronological sequence of events rather than an identification of the issues. More important, it was found that the influence of the presentation format of the story is pronounced in students’ ability to abstract the central issues in the story. The presentation format seemed to have little influence on the points of view students expressed and on the consistency of students’ views in a personally-oriented situation. As for the variation of these features by gender, females more than males tended to abstract the central issues in the story and to identify the different points of view presented on the issue. They also tended to give views that were geared toward caring and protecting animals, whereas males correspondingly seemed to give views that were utilitarian. When presented with a second, related story that attempted to make the issue more personally relevant, females, more than males, seemed to give views on this second story that were fairly consistent with the ways they expressed their points of view about this issue both at a personal and societal context, and continued to support views that were consistent with the caring and the protection of animals. Males mainly appear to support views that are utilitarian. Implications for curriculum and practise are discussed.

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