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WAYS TO PROMOTE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A DEVELOPED SCIENTIFIC

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    SCIENTIFIC LITERACY

    WAYS TO PROMOTE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A DEVELOPED

    SCIENTIFIC LITERACY IN SCIENCE EDUCATION

    Chair:

    Ingo Eilks

    University of Bremen, Germany

    Discussant:

    Jack Holbrook

    University of Tartu, Estonia

    Contributions:

    Rachel Mamlok-Naaman

    Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

     Ingo Eilks and Ralf Marks

    University of Bremen

    Claus Bolte, Birgit Kirschenmann and Sabine Streller

    Free University of Berlin, Germany

    Miia Rannikmäe and Anne Laius

    University of Tartu, Estonia

Abstract

    While the enhancement of scientific literacy is a commonly accepted goal for science education, there is no single accepted concept of scientific literacy. At the centre to this confusion is the place of science content. For some people, scientific literacy means an acquisition of so-called „basic knowledge‟ often under the guide of process-oriented competencies. On the other hand, curricula have been developed where content is

    not the target, but the vehicle to achieve process-oriented competencies, e.g. competencies of communication and argumentation, exploitation of evidence in science, or valuation and decision making in a socio-scientific context. The symposium supports the later interpretation. The symposium will bring together different approaches of how to promote scientific literacy through the application of specific innovations to the learning of science at secondary level. All presentations will pay special emphasis to the promotion of students‟ skills in decision making based on strong conceptual science, skills and values. Each of the presentations will put a special focus on the issue. These foci will cover introducing the history of science, authentic and controversial debates from within the society, extra-curricular courses in a university‟s laboratory, or socially derived lesson plans aiming at the promotion of creativity.

Aims and Scope

    While the enhancement of scientific literacy is a commonly accepted goal for science education, there is no

    single accepted concept of scientific literacy itself. At the centre of this confusion is the place of science content. For

    some people, scientific literacy means an acquisition of so-called ‗basic knowledge‘, often under the guide of

    process-oriented competencies. On the other hand, curricula have been developed where content is not the target,

    ? ESERA, 2009 ESERA 2009 CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS

    A paper presented at the European Science Education Research Association 2009 Conference

    Istanbul, Turkey

    August 31 - September 1, 2009

but rather the vehicle for achieving process-oriented competencies, e.g. competencies of communication and

    argumentation, exploitation of evidence in science, or valuation and decision making in a socio-scientific context.

    The symposium supports the later interpretation. We support a quote from OECD-PISA defining the essential part

    of scientific literacy to be the identification of questions related to science and technology as well as to develop skills

    to draw evidence based conclusions in order to understand and help make decisions about the natural world and the change made

    through it through human activity‖.

    The symposium will bring together different approaches of how to promote scientific literacy through the

    application of specific innovations to the learning of science at the secondary level. All presentations will pay special

    emphasis to the promotion of students‘ skills in decision-making, based on strong conceptual science, skills and values. Each of the presentations will put a special focus on the issue. These foci will cover introducing the history

    of science, authentic and controversial debates from within the society, extra-curricular courses in university

    laboratories, and socially derived lesson plans aiming at the promotion of creativity.

    All four of the projects focus on the development of scientific literacy with a special accent on the

    development of students skills in decision making, i.e. in the fields of communication and valuation. Each paper is

    based on a research-based development of interventions and an appraisal of their effectiveness by evaluating

    different sources of data. The symposium seeks to strengthen the comparison of these related projects and their

    respective strategies. But the symposium also will look for a potential inclusion of essential elements from each of

    the approaches into complex settings for an effective promotion of scientific literacy.

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    Istanbul, Turkey

    August 31 - September 1, 2009

ENHANCING THE SCIENTIFIC LITERACY OF STUDENTS BY EXPOSING

    THEM TO A HISTORICAL APPROACH TO SCIENCE

    Rachel Mamlok-Naaman

    The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Abstract

    Nowadays, at the outset of the twenty-first century, the idea that each person should have some familiarity with the nature of science is

    becoming more and more accepted. For example, notions such as „scientific literacy for all‟ are beginning to play an important role in

    considerations pertaining to educational goals. Contrary to the situation at the beginning of the 19th century when science was viewed as important, interesting and exciting, the image of science today is rather negative. It is therefore reasonable to assume that this lack of interest can hinder students‟ motivation in getting involved in science studies. The objective of the present study was to test whether using the module: “Science: An Ever-Developing Entity” (Mamlok, 1995), which uses a historical approach to teaching science, would affect the attitudes of non-science-oriented students towards science.

    Introduction

    In recent years we have become increasingly aware of the need for people to understand the nature of science

    in order to make decisions posed by new developments in both science and in technology. However, many students,

    even those who intend to become scientists, are unaware of the true nature of science (Irwin, 1996). Nevertheless,

    students both in high school and at the college level generally have positive views regarding the nature of physical

    reality and scientific inquiries. Although they may regard science as a systematic gathering of facts and laws, very

    often they are not aware of the roles of science and scientists in building models and theories as tools to understand

    nature (Jungwirth, 1987; Hayes & Perez, 1997). Arons (1984) claimed that many science teachers do not devote time

    to discuss the nature of the scientific process and, as a result, miss opportunities to instill critical and investigative

    thinking, towards the education of a scientific literate citizen. Notions such as ‗scientific literacy for all‘ are beginning

    to play an important role in considerations pertaining to educational goals. However, these ideas pose many

    problems, both regarding the actual meaning of the term ‗scientific literacy for all‘, as well as the ability to provide all

    students with some background in science. In this paper we will describe an attempt to use a historical approach to

    science teaching in order to improve the attitudes of non-science-oriented students (those who did not choose to

    major in any of the scientific disciplines) towards science and science studies. More specifically, the objective of the

    present study was to test whether using the module: “Science – An Ever-Developing Entity” (Mamlok, Ben-Zvi, Menis & Pennick, 2000), which uses a historical approach to teaching science, would affect the attitudes of non-science-

    oriented students towards science.

    Rationale

    "Science: An Ever-Developing Entity" is a module (a teaching unit) aimed at non-science-oriented high-school

    students. It interweaves aspects of science, technology, and society, related to the development of the concept

    ―structure of matter‖. It was designed in order to encourage a change in students' views regarding science in general

    and the structure of matter in particular by studying the evolution of man's thinking and investigations. The module

    surveys the development of our understanding of the structure of matter. It attempts to develop models that can

    explain the accumulated observations regarding matter and chemical reactions, which is a process that is as old as

    science itself (another parallel subject is, for example, astronomy). Ideas concerning the structure of matter and the

    way models are used to explain it, which changed throughout history, constitute a good example of the

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    August 31 - September 1, 2009

representation of the history of science to students. Thus, the module was developed with the following objectives

    in mind: (1) to enable students who did not choose to major in any of the scientific disciplines to familiarize

    themselves with the nature of science, (2) to enable students to understand the interplay between science and

    technology, and (3) to change students' attitudes towards science in general and more specifically towards science

    taught in school.

    Research Methods

    thThe participants were 10 grade students from high schools located in the central part of Israel. The group of students consisted of 90 non-science-oriented students (students who chose not to major in science) in three classes

    - one in each school. All students were between 15 and 16 years old and came from middle to upper socioeconomic

    levels. They studied about the structure of matter using the module ―Science: An Ever-Developing Entity” (Mamlok,

    1995), for 40 periods (50 minutes each) during the school year. The three teachers were experienced teachers

    (having more than 15 years of experience in teaching chemistry, physics, or biology for high-school students).

    As mentioned before, the objective of the study was to test whether using the module: “Science – An Ever-

    Developing Entity” (Mamlok, 1995), which uses a historical approach to teaching science, would affect the attitudes of

    non-science-oriented students towards science. Three kinds of data sources were used: (1) interviews with students,

    (2) observations of classroom activities, and (3) informal conversations. All these data sources, which were originally

    in Hebrew, were translated into English. The translation was done by professional translators, and was critically read

    for validation by the first and the second authors of this paper.

    Interviews - The interviews were conducted by the first author of this paper at the beginning and after the study

    were completed. The researchers asked each teacher from the three classes to choose four students for the

    interviews. Two students were low achievers and the other two were high achievers. The teachers categorized their

    students according to their achievements in a mathematics test which was conducted at the beginning of the school

    year. David, Sarah, Nadav, Orit, Gila, and Aric were categorized as low achievers, and Alon, Elana, Danny, Nora,

    Leora, and Ron (pseudonyms) were categorized as high achievers.

    The interviews were semi-structured and the discussions were carried out around questions such as the following:

    1. What do you do when a program that deals with a scientific issue appears on television?

    2. When you read newspapers, are you interested in articles about science?

    3. In your opinion, is science related to everyday life?

    4. How, in your opinion, do the scientific inventions influence society?

    5. What do you think is a scientists‘ daily routine?

    6. How do you feel about studying science using a historical approach?

    We are aware of the fact that questions 3 and 4 might look a little leading. However, the way in which non-

    science-oriented students perceive these issues was very central to this study, and unfortunately, we could not find a

    better way to phrase these questions.

    Observations The first author of this paper observed and videotaped three specific lessons that were given in

    each class, which centered around three events: (1) presenting mini-projects to all the students in the class, (2)

    participating in a scientific conference in school, and (3) debating on the subject: ―For and against basic research‖.

    Informal conversations The informal conversations were held by the first author of this paper with students during the breaks, and were summed up later. These discussions added insights and understanding about the

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    A paper presented at the European Science Education Research Association 2009 Conference

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    August 31 - September 1, 2009

students' feelings and attitudes toward learning the module ―Science: An Ever-Developing Entity” (Mamlok, 1995), and

    served as another tool for validating the data collected from the semi-structured interviews.

    The data analysis was based on basic methods of qualitative data analysis (Tobin, 1995; Glaser & Strauss,

    1967). We constantly compared the data from the interview with the data from the observations, and refined them.

    When clarification was needed, we collected more data by informal conversations.

    Prior to studying the module, during informal discussions with the twelve students, statements such as the

    followings were heard:

    ? "The science studies in junior high school bored me."

    ? "I am not good at it."

    ? "Science programs on television don't interest me. Science studies scare me because I have to learn so many formulas."

    ? "I don't understand anything about science because I am not good in mathematics."

    Some also expressed negative attitudes towards science in general, for example:

    ? "It might cause disasters, like Chernobyl and Hiroshima, or may cause damage, like the hole in the ozone layer,

    pollution, and disease."

    ? "Why does the man in the street have to invest in order to satisfy the curiosity of scientists or research

    institutions?"

    ? "Why don't scientists concentrate on what is really needed: development of medicine to fight severe illnesses,

    materials to fight pollution or developing better safety mechanisms for cars to decrease the number of

    accidents?"

    The quotations were from both low and high achievers. Interestingly, in these two diverse groups of students,

    we could not point out any meaningful differences regarding their attitudes towards science. Based on their

    statements, we concluded that the decision of many of the twelve students from the non-science-oriented classes

    not to continue in their science studies was influenced by their past experiences.

    After the study was completed, the interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed according to

    four main categories that emerged from the teachers' answers:

    a. Students‘ attitudes towards science and science studies. b. Students‘ perceptions of the world of the scientists. c. Students‘ understanding of the nature of science and of technology.

    d. Students‘ attitudes towards studying science using a historical approach Results and Discussion

    The main objective of the study was to examine the effect of learning the module “Science – An Ever-Developing

    thEntity” on 10 graders who did not choose to study science (grade non-science-oriented students). The research

    question was examined through observations in class, interviews with twelve students, and informal conversations.

    Before studying the module, the students expressed negative attitudes towards science studies. They could

    not see the importance of learning science, and the fact that science arouses curiosity and enthusiasm, and

    encourages thinking. After studying the module, however, their attitudes changed towards science and science

    studies. Moreover, they became interested in the scientific world, in the interaction between science and of

    technology, and they expressed positive attitudes towards studying science using a historical approach. There was

    almost no difference between the attitudes of the low achievers and the high achievers before studying the module

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Table 1. Examples of students' quotations during the interviews conducted after the completion of the

    study

    Characteristics of students' Quotations from low achievers Quotations from high achievers

    responses

    Students‘ attitudes towards David: Perhaps, in the end, I'll Nora: The projects I prepared gave me science and science studies. become a scientist, who knows? an understanding and an overall

    comprehension of the subject and thus Sarah: My enthusiasm to do work my approach to science studies has in science proves that I became changed. I began to like science and "closer" to this sphere and actually became interested in it. it interests me!

    Students‘ perceptions of the Orit: Galileo was an exceptional Elana: Scientists' greatest achievement

    world of the scientists. man but there are many others like nowadays is their ability to cooperate

    him and we don‘t know much with each other and to publish their about them but they are work, so that other scientists all over

    responsible for all innovations. the world will benefit from that

    knowledge. Alon: Scientists‘ curiosity and

    desire to know are beyond

    boundaries. It appears that their

    way of thinking leads them to

    discoveries and inventions that

    ultimately help to improve life. Students‘ understanding of the Gila: Every accident or fault that Danny: All in all I'm in favor of science nature of science and we read about in the newspapers and technology. Human life has been technology. often causes the public to develop much improved. Even serious illness is

    negative attitudes towards various better treated All these are actually developments in science or based on human curiosity, and the

    technology. desire to know what the atom is made

    of and what matter is made of. Basic Sarah: The public makes almost research drives applied research and no differentiation between applied research provides basic developments in science or research with additional questions and technology, and between science, problems. values and technological appli-

    cations, which may be discussed in Ron: How can one believe that once

    terms of good or bad. there was no electricity? It's a

    wonderful invention that everyone Aric: We don't know enough takes for granted. about the positive things for

    which science and technology are

    responsible. Whenever anything

    happens, science and technology

    are immediately blamed.

    Students‘ attitudes towards Orit: I liked very much the Alon: I loved the idea of moving back studying a science curriculum chapters about the alchemists. I and forth, sometimes toward the using a historical approach. liked the magic in the work of the alchemists and at other times toward

    alchemists who worked according contemporary scientists. I liked the

    to the theory of Aristotle. I pitied idea that nowadays we can change base

    them because they followed a elements into gold, only it is expensive.

    theory that was a dead end and I thought to myself that even we or

    they did not understand it. some of us can become scientists.

    Everyone can make mistakes and the

    scientists are only human beings.

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    A paper presented at the European Science Education Research Association 2009 Conference

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    August 31 - September 1, 2009

    “Science – An Ever-Developing Entity”. Both groups claimed that they did not choose to major in any of the scientific disciplines, since either they were bored by science studies in junior high school, or that they were scared of the

    formulas and calculations. Some mentioned the negative results of scientific discoveries, such as Chernobyl or

    Hiroshima, and wondered about the benefit of basic scientific research. "Why don't scientists concentrate on what is

    really needed: developing medicine to fight severe illnesses, materials to fight pollution or developing better safety

    mechanisms for cars to decrease the number of accidents?" was a popular claim (see Table 1).

    Based on these findings, we suggest that the historical approach may help to achieve a better understanding

    of the essence of scientific phenomena, scientific methodology, and overall scientific thinking (American

    Association for the Advancement of Science, 1989; Sparberg, 1996; Monk & Osborne, 1997). In addition, this

    approach, which integrates scientific development and a historical analysis of scientific events, may help to achieve a

    better understanding of the essence of science and the methods of scientists (Klopfer & Cooley, 1961; Hall, Lowe,

    McKavanagh, McKenzie, & Martin, 1983; Matthews, 1994; Duschl, 1993; Meyling, 1997; Lederman, Abd-El-

    Khalick, Bell & Schwartz, 2002).

    Finally, the students should become familiar with various projects of scientists on a specific subject (Ihde,

    1984), and the effect of various cultures on scientific development (Hayes & Perez, 1997).

    Conclusions and Implications

    Based on the data analysis, we may conclude that for students who did not choose to major in any of the

    science disciplines, the combination of scientific subjects, the analysis of historical events, and issues taken from the

    spheres of the social sciences and humanities were more interesting and aroused more curiosity. Studying the

    concepts and their significance in various periods helped them to achieve a better understanding of the scientific

    endeavor. Many also remarked, regarding the variety of teaching methods, that the experiments that simulated

    ancient experiments, as well as films, articles, and projects that they prepared and presented to their classmates and

    teachers greatly contributed to the learning and comprehension of the material. The students evaluated the

    instruction strategies as enjoyable, increasing their interest in science in general, and the area of historical aspects in

    particular.

    We suggest, that should be presented in a way that will be understood by the students, and provide an

    atmosphere of learning environment in which students will learn to understand phenomena and link between them

    without the complications of formulas (Ben-Zvi, 1999). We believe, that if students study a challenging curriculum,

    situated and encored within a certain context (a historical one in this case), their perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes

    towards science and science learning will be positive (Blumenfield, Fishman, Krajcik, Marx & Solloway, 2000).

    Historical aspects should be integrated into the science curricula. These consist of scientific developments and

    historical analysis of scientific events, which are taught by introducing the students to events in development of

    science and the work of scientists, more specifically by (1) discussions consisting of the deliberations that arose

    during their work pertaining to phenomena, (2) conducting classroom debates, emphasizing how controversial some

    theories in science were at the time of their proposal (Niaz & Rodriguez, 2002), (3) conducting experiments that

    simulate experiments carried out by scientists in various periods, or (4) learning about the spirit of the times (Conant,

    1957; Brush, 1974; Irwin, 1997).

    References

    American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1989). Science for all Americans: A Project 2061 report on literacy

    goals in science, mathematics and technology. Washington, DC: Oxford University Press.

    Arons, A. B. (1984). Education through science. Journal of College Science Teaching, 13, 210-220.

    Ben- Zvi, R. (1999). Non-science oriented students and the second law of thermodynamics. International Journal of

    Science Education, 21(12), 1251-1267.

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Blumenfeld, P. C., Fishman, B. J., Krajcik, J. S., Marx, R. W., & Soloway, E. (2000). Creating usableinnovations in

    systemic reform: Scaling-up technology - embedded project-based science in urban schools. Education

    Psychologist, 35, 149-164.

    Brush, S. G. (1974). Should the history of science be rated? Science, 184, 1164-1172.

    Conant, J. B. (1957). Harvard case histories in experimental sciences (Vols. 1 & 2). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University

    Press.

    Duschl? R. A. (1993). Research on the history and philosophy of science. In: D. Gabel (Ed.), Handbook of research on

    science teaching and learning (pp. 443-465). New York: Macmillan.

    Glaser, B. G, & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research.

    Hawhorne, NY: Aldine.

    Hall, D., Lowe, L., McKavanagh, C., McKenzie, S., & Martin, H. (1983). Teaching science, technology and society in junior

    high school. Brisbane, Australia: Brisbane College of Advanced Education.

    Hayes, J. M., & Perez, P. L. (1997). Project inclusion: Native American plant dyes. Chemical Heritage, 15(1), 38-40. Ihde, A. J. (1984). The development of modern chemistry. New York: Dover.

    Irwin, J. (1996). A survey of the historical aspects of sciences in school textbooks. School Science Review, 78(282), 101-

    107.

    Irwin, J. (1997). Theories of burning: A case study using a historical perspective. School Science Review, 78(285), 31-37. Jungwirth, J. (1987). The intellectual skill of suspending judgement - do pupils possess it?. Gifted Education

    International, 6, 71-77.

    Klopfer, L. E., & Cooley, W. (1961). Use of case histories in the development of student understanding of science and scientists.

    Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Lederman, N. G. Abd-El-Khalick, F., Bell, R. L., & Schwartz, R. S. (2002). Views of nature of science questionnaire:

    Toward valid and meaningful assessment of learners' conceptions of nature of science. Journal of Research in

    Science Teaching, 39, 497-521.

    Mamlok, R. (1995). Science: An ever-developing entity. Rehovot, Israel: Weizmann Institute of Science (in Hebrew).

    Mamlok, R., Ben-Zvi, R., Menis, J., & Penick, J. E. (2000). Can simple metals be transmuted into gold? Teaching

    science through a historical approach. Science Education International, 11(3), 33-37.

    Matthews, M. R. (1994). Science teaching: The role of history and philosophy of science. New York: Routledge.

    Meyling, H. (1997). How to change students' conceptions of the epistemology of science. Science & Education, 6, 397-

    416.

    Monk, M., & Osborne, J. (1997). Placing the history and philosophy of science on the curriculum: a model for the

    development of pedagogy. Science Education, 81, 405-424.

    Niaz, M., & Rodriguez, M. A. (2002). Improving learning by discussing controversies in the 20th century physics.

    Physics Education, 37(1), 59-63.

    Sparberg, E. B. (1996). Hindsight and the history of chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 73, 199-202. Tobin, K. (1995, April). Issues of commensurability in the use of qualitative and quantitative measures. Paper presented at the

    Annual Meeting of the National association for Research in Science Teaching, San Francisco, CA.

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PROMOTING SCIENTIFIC LITERACY BY INTEGRATING AUTHENTIC

    AND CONTROVERSIAL SOCIO-SCIENTIFIC DEBATES INTO SCIENCE

    LESSONS

     Ingo Eilks and Ralf Marks

    University of Bremen

Abstract

    This presentation discusses the objectives of chemistry education concerning its contribution to „Allgemeinbildung‟, i.e. in its confrontation of “science through education” vs. “education through science”. Using starting points like these, some ten years ago the socio-critical and problem-oriented approach was suggested by Eilks for chemistry teaching in Germany. In this paper its central assumptions and criteria for structuring lesson plans are presented as they have been refined by developing a whole series of lesson plans through Participatory Action Research in recent years. The derived theoretical framework suggests science teaching under thorough inclusion of socio-economical and ecological reflections by starting the lessons from relevant, authentic and controversial debates, which provoke and allow for open discussions and individual decision making processes. The presentation is illustrated by an example which deals with musk fragrances used in cosmetic products. From experience gained in applying different examples, the potential of this teaching approach is then reflected upon as a source for promoting the process-oriented skills of evaluation and communication as essential parts of a well-developed scientific literacy.

Introduction

    Chemistry classes at the secondary level are unpopular among students in Germany (Gräber, 2002), just as

    they are in other countries (e.g. Osborne, 2003; Holbrook, 2005). Additionally, German chemistry teaching has quite

    often been characterised as ineffective in promoting higher-order cognitive skills, e.g. students‘ skills in communication or in evaluating socio-scientific issues (Gräber, 2002). One reason is believed to be the fact that

    most German chemistry lessons use an overly content-driven approach instead taking up applications and societal

    relevant issues (Gräber, 2002; Holbrook, 2005). Current practice in German chemistry teaching is not sufficiently

    oriented towards problem-solving and practical applications (Stanat et al., 2002) and does not focus thoroughly

    enough on the interplay of science, technology and society with regard to local issues, public policy-making and

    global problems (Gräber, 2002; Eilks, 2000; Marks & Eilks, 2009). Such chemistry classes lack personal relevance for

    the students, which lead to both low levels of motivation and also a general lack of interest in chemistry as a

    discipline (Osborne, Driver, & Simon, 1998; Morell & Lederman, 1998; Osborne, 2007; Hofstein, Eilks, & Bybee,

    under review).

    The described lack remains the case, despite science educators repeatedly indicating the need to make

    students competent in socio-scientific reasoning and to prepare young people to participate in socio-scientific

    controversies. Such changes must occur if teaching is to focus on the development of scientific literacy in its

    learners (e.g. Pedretti & Hodson, 1995; Driver, Leach, Millar, & Scott, 1996; Bybee, 1997; Eilks, 2000; Holbrook,

    2003; Osborne, 2007; Marks & Eilks, 2009; Hofstein, Eilks, & Bybee, under review). A quote from Holbrook and

    Rannikmäe (2007) illustrates this:

    “… Science education should be regarded as „education through science„, rather than „science through education„. […]

    This encompasses an understanding of the nature of science [education], with links to achievement of goals in the personal

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    domain, stressing intellectual and communication skill development, as well as the promotion of character and positive

    attitudes, plus achievement of goals in the social education domain, stressing cooperative learning and socio-scientific

    decision-making. […] the over-riding target for science teaching in school, as an aspect of relevant education, is seen in

    responsible citizenry, based on enhancing scientific and technological literacy.”

    The approach this paper is about totally agrees with this position and thus pleas for chemistry lessons to

    include societal issues and discussions involving science, technology and society (Eilks, 2002; Marks & Eilks, 2009,

    Hofstein, Eilks, & Bybee, under review).

    However, the selection of such everyday-life contexts of chemistry and technology should not be arbitrary.

    Issues should be chosen which are authentic and truly relevant for students' lives. Numerous arguments support this

    idea. Many of these stem from viewing science education more thoroughly from the perspective of activity theory

    (van Aalsvoort, 2004 a and b; Roth & Lee, 2004) which demands science education to be oriented towards students‘

    personal needs and interests in order to increase the relevance of science education in the eyes of the students

    (Fensham, 2004; Holbrook & Rannikmäe, 2007; Marks & Eilks, 2009). This must, however, be accomplished

    without neglecting the attainment of a basic understanding of relevant science concepts necessary for identifying

    and engaging socio-scientific discussions based on well-grounded knowledge (Lewis & Leach, 2006). A related

    justification also can be obtained from the German teaching tradition, which defines the main objective of schooling

    as achieving a high level of Allgemeinbildung (general education) (e.g. Hofstein, Eilks, & Bybee, under review). This concept encompasses the development of skills in 1) self-determination, 2) active engagement, and 3) solidarity

    within society (see e.g., Klafki, 2000). Also Roth and Lee (2004) and Elmose and Roth (2005) used the idea of

    Allgemeinbildung and characterised the focus as a readiness for both life and participation in a modern society. While all such societies are strongly based on science and technology, it is clear that such an approach focuses very

    strongly on a developed and multidimensional scientific literacy (Bybee, 1997).

    Agreeing to the contrasting of ‗education through science‘ instead of ‗science through education‘ (Holbrook

    & Rannikmäe, 2007), such an approach to science teaching demands structures which promote communication and

    evaluation skills that can be applied within science, but also beyond. These skills are necessary to reflect the interplay

    of science and technology with society, ecology, economy, and with learners' own desires, needs and interests (e.g.

    Bybee, 1987; Solomon & Aikenhead, 1994; Gräber, 2002; Fensham, 2004; Aikenhead, 2007). Moreover, Bybee

    (1997) described such interactions as the core issue for well-developed, multidimensional scientific literacy:

    “The learner makes connections within the science disciplines, between science and technology, and between science and

    technology and larger social problems and aspirations.”

    Before, during and after Bybee‘s well-recognised contributions in the 1980s and 1990s (e.g. Bybee, 1987, 1997) there were extensive discussions of such aspects as: how to make science teaching more relevant to students, how to

    promote competency in evaluating socio-scientific issues as a central objective of science lessons, and how to teach

    students about the inter-relatedness of science, technology and society. Actual overviews of this STS-tradition are

    given in Sadler's review (2004) or in the critical discussion by Roberts (2007). Such STS-oriented chemistry lessons

    include a reflective overview of chemistry, its industrial applications and its ecological and socio-economic impacts.

    STS education is considered as necessary, if education is understood as a process of creating literate citizens who are

    able to play an active and responsible role in democratic decision-making processes about science and technology

    and their potential impacts (Millar, 1996; Holbrook & Rannikmäe, 2007; Hofstein, Eilks, & Bybee, under review).

    This approach may also improve students‘ interest in and attitudes towards science lessons (e.g. Osborne, Driver &

    Simon, 1998; Millar, 2006), aspects which are of great importance for learning achievement (Simpson, Koballa,

    Oliver, & Crawley, 1994).

    10

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