Conceptualizing Socioscientific Decision Making from a Review of Research in Science Education

  • Su-Chi Fang
  • Ying-Shao HsuEmail author
  • Shu-Sheng Lin


This article proposes a theoretical framework for conceptualizing socioscientific decision making, reviews current research in this area, and intends to shed some light on the instructional design for the classroom implementation of socioscientific decision making. The framework involves 3 phases: formulate the decision-making space, posit a decision-making strategy, and reflect on the decision-making process. A total of 24 articles that specifically focused on socioscientific decision making were included. They were classified into 2 groups. The first group explored students’ socioscientific decision-making behavior and its relationships with their cognitive conditions. The second examined the effectiveness of the interventions, that is, task conditions. The analysis showed that most of the studies in both groups focused on phase 1 and studied 3 research themes: informal reasoning, evidence-based reasoning, and social interactions. The findings indicated the challenges phases 1 and 2 posed to students, such as prioritizing criteria and employing a suitable decision-making strategy. Two cognitive conditions, scientific knowledge and scientific epistemological beliefs, appeared to have a more direct impact on evidence-based reasoning rather than on informal reasoning. Group 2 studies designed various interventions and looked into divergent socioscientific decision-making performances across 3 phases. The framework helps conceptualize socioscientific decision making in a more structural and holistic way. The content review provides instructional insights for the socioscientific decision-making process and suggests several future research directions.


Decision making Instructional design Literature review Socioscientific issues 



This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, under Grants No. NSC-102-2811-S-003-003 and MOST 104-2511-S-003-054-MY3.

Supplementary material

10763_2018_9890_MOESM1_ESM.docx (147 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 147 kb)


References marked with *one asterisk and **two asterisks indicate group 1 and group 2 studies respectively included in the review.

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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Institute of Science Education, Department of Earth SciencesNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Graduate Institute of Mathematics and Science EducationNational Chiayi UniversityChiayi CityTaiwan

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