Learning Science Content and Socio-scientific Reasoning Through Classroom Explorations of Global Climate Change

  • Troy D. SadlerEmail author
  • Michelle L. Klosterman
  • Mustafa S. Topcu
Part of the Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education book series (CTISE, volume 39)


The goals for our research related to socio-scientific issues (SSI) have always been related to the promotion of scientific literacy (see Chap. 1) and the improvement of science learning experiences. However, the work has not always been centrally situated in classroom environments. For much of our early research, we explored students’ moral perspectives (Sadler & Zeidler, 2004), reasoning (Sadler & Zeidler, 2005), understandings of science (Sadler & Fowler, 2006), and argumentation (Sadler & Donnelly, 2006) related to SSI in contexts not necessarily connected to students’ experiences in science classrooms or other learning environments. We were interested in building an empirical understanding of how science learners made sense of complicated socio-scientific dilemmas, how they made decisions about these issues, and what factors influenced their thinking practices. We engaged students in reasoning and argumentation collecting data through interviews and instruments, but did not explore classroom practices or the possible effects of intervening in learning environments. In an attempt to advance the SSI research agenda and create stronger connections among theory, research, and practice we began working on projects situated in science classrooms.


Content Knowledge Science Content Curricular Innovation Science Content Knowledge Student Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. ACS. (2006). Chemistry in the community (5th ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman.Google Scholar
  2. Agresti, A., & Finlay, B. (1999). Statistical methods for the social sciences. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Albe, V. (2008). When scientific knowledge, daily life experience, epistemological and social considerations intersect: Students’ argumentation in group discussion on a socio-scientific issue. Research in Science Education, 38, 67–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anthony, S., Brauch, T. W., & Longley, E. J. (2007). Chem connections: What should we do about global warming? New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  5. Barab, S. A., Sadler, T. D., Heiselt, C., Hickey, D. T., & Zuiker, S. (2007). Relating narrative, inquiry, and inscriptions: Supporting consequential play. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16, 59–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barber, M. (2001). A comparison of NEAB and Salters A-level Chemistry: Students views and achievements. UK: University of York.Google Scholar
  7. Berkowitz, M. W., & Simmons, P. (2003). Integrating science education and character education. In D. L. Zeidler (Ed.), The role of moral reasoning on socioscientific issues and discourse in science education (pp. 117–138). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  8. Bingle, W. H., & Gaskell, P. J. (1994). Scientific literacy for decision making and the social construction of scientific knowledge. Science Education, 78, 185–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bryce, T., & Gray, D. (2004). Tough acts to follow: The challenges to science teachers presented by biotechnological progress. International Journal of Science Education, 14, 717–733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cajas, F. (1999). Public understanding of science: Using technology to enhance school science in everyday life. International Journal of Science Education, 21, 765–773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillside: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  12. Cross, R. T., & Price, R. F. (1996). Science teachers’ social conscience and the role of controversial issues in the teaching of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33, 319–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeBoer, G. E. (1991). A history of ideas in science education: Implications for practice. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dori, Y. J., Tal, R., & Tsaushu, M. (2003). Teaching biotechnology through case studies – Can we improve higher order thinking skills of nonscience majors? Science Education, 87, 767–793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dunlop, W. P., Cortina, J. M., Vaslow, J. B., & Burke, M. J. (1996). Meta-analysis of experiments with matched groups or repeated measures designs. Psychological Methods, 1, 170–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Harris, R., & Ratcliffe, M. (2005). Socio-scientific issues and the quality of exploratory talk-what can be learned from schools involved in a ‘collapsed day’ project? The Curriculum Journal, 16, 439–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hickey, D. T., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2005). Theory, level, and function: Three dimensions for understanding transfer and student assessment. In J. P. Mestre (Ed.), Transfer of learning from a modern multidisciplinary perspective (pp. 251–293). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishers.Google Scholar
  18. Hickey, D. T., Zuiker, S. J., & Taasoobshirazi, G. (2006). Balancing varied assessment functions to attain systemic validity: Three is the magic number. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 32(3), 180–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hogan, K. (2002). Small groups’ ecological reasoning while making an environmental management decision. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 341–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klosterman, M. L., & Sadler, T. D. (2008). Information literacy for science education: Evaluating web-based materials for socioscientific issues. Science Scope, 31(7), 18–21.Google Scholar
  21. Klosterman, M., & Sadler, T. D. (2010). Multi-level assessment of content knowledge gains in the context of socioscientific issues based instruction. International Journal of Science Education, 32, 1017–1043.Google Scholar
  22. Kolstø, S. D. (2001). ‘To trust or not to trust,…’ -pupils’ ways of judging information encountered in a socio-scientific issue. International Journal of Science Education, 23, 877–901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lumpe, A. T., Haney, J. J., & Czerniak, C. M. (1998). Science teacher beliefs and intentions to implement science-technology-society (STS) in the classroom. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 9, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Orpwood, G. (2007). Assessing scientific literacy: Threats and opportunities. In C. Linder, L. Ostman, & P.-O. Wickman (Eds.), Promoting scientific literacy: Science education research in transaction: Proceedings of the Linnaeus Tercentenary Symposium (pp. 120–129). Uppsala: Uppsala University.Google Scholar
  25. Pedretti, E. (1999). Decision making and STS education: Exploring scientific knowledge and social responsibility in schools and science centers through an issues-based approach. School Science and Mathematics, 99, 174–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ruiz-Primo, M. A., Shavelson, R. J., Hamilton, L., & Klein, S. (2002). On the evaluation of systemic science education reform: Searching for instructional sensitivity. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 369–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sadler, T. D., Amirshokoohi, A., Kazempour, M., & Allspaw, K. (2006). Socioscience and ethics in science classrooms: Teacher perspectives and strategies. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43, 353–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sadler, T. D., Barab, S. A., & Scott, B. (2007). What do students gain by engaging in socioscientific inquiry? Research in Science Education, 37, 371–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sadler, T. D., & Donnelly, L. A. (2006). Socioscientific argumentation: The effects of content knowledge and morality. International Journal of Science Education, 28, 1463–1488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sadler, T. D., Eckart, T. M., Lewis, J. E., & Whitley, K. M. (2005). It’s a gas! An exploration of the physical nature of gases. Science Scope, 29(3), 12–14.Google Scholar
  31. Sadler, T. D., & Fowler, S. (2006). A threshold model of content knowledge transfer for socioscientific argumentation. Science Education, 90, 986–1004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sadler, T. D., & Klosterman, M. L. (2009). Exploring the socio-political dimensions of global warming. Science Activities, 45(4), 9–12.Google Scholar
  33. Sadler, T. D., & Zeidler, D. L. (2004). The morality of socioscientific issues: Construal and resolution of genetic engineering dilemmas. Science Education, 88, 4–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sadler, T. D., & Zeidler, D. L. (2005). Patterns of informal reasoning in the context of socioscientific decision making. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42, 112–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Settlage, J., & Meadows, L. (2002). Standards-based reform and its unintended consequences: Implications for science education within America’s urban schools. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 114–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sneider, C., Golden, R., & Gaylen, F. (2004). Climate change. Berkley: Lawrence Hall of Science.Google Scholar
  37. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  38. Yager, S. O., Lim, G., & Yager, R. (2006). The advantages of an STS approach over a typical textbook dominated approach in middle school science. School Science and Mathematics, 106, 248–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yang, F.-Y., & Anderson, O. R. (2003). Senior high school students’ preference and reasoning modes about nuclear energy use. International Journal of Science Education, 25, 221–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zeidler, D. L., & Sadler, T. D. (2008). The role of moral reasoning in argumentaion: Conscience, character, and care. In S. Erduran & M.-P. Jiménez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education: Recent developments and future directions (pp. 201–216). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  41. Zeidler, D. L., Walker, K. A., Ackett, W. A., & Simmons, M. L. (2002). Tangled up in views: Beliefs in the nature of science and responses to socioscientific dilemmas. Science Education, 86, 343–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zohar, A., & Nemet, F. (2002). Fostering students’ knowledge and argumentation skills through dilemmas in human genetics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 35–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.  2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Troy D. Sadler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle L. Klosterman
    • 2
  • Mustafa S. Topcu
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Teaching and LearningUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of EducationWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Department of Elementary Science EducationYuzuncu Yil UniversityVanTurkey

Personalised recommendations