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Abstract

This study explored teacher perspectives on the use of socioscientific issues (SSI) and on dealing with ethics in the context of science instruction. Twenty-two middle and high school science teachers from three US states participated in semi-structured interviews, and researchers employed inductive analyses to explore emergent patterns relative to the following two questions. (1) How do science teachers conceptualize the place of ethics in science and science education? (2) How do science teachers handle topics with ethical implications and expression of their own values in their classrooms? Profiles were developed to capture the views and reported practices, relative to the place of ethics in science and science classrooms, of participants. Profile A comprising teachers who embraced the notion of infusing science curricula with SSI and cited examples of using controversial topics in their classes. Profile B participants supported SSI curricula in theory but reported significant constraints which prohibited them from actualizing these goals. Profile C described teachers who were non-committal with respect to focusing instruction on SSI and ethics. Profile D was based on the position that science and science education should be value-free. Profile E transcended the question of ethics in science education; these teachers felt very strongly that all education should contribute to their students' ethical development. Participants also expressed a wide range of perspectives regarding the expression of their own values in the classroom. Implications of this research for science education are discussed. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 43: 353–376, 2006