An investigation of the semantic meaning assigned to concepts affiliated with sts education and of STS instructional practices among a sample of exemplary science teachers

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Abstract

The semantic meaning assigned to concepts associated with science-technology-society (STS) education, the percentage of science course time allotted to STS instruction, the categories of STS issues infused into sciences courses, and the instructional procedures used to do so, were examined among a sample of 65 exemplary secondary-level science teachers. The teachers were volunteers from the 87 science teachers from a Midwestern state locally nominated for the Presidential Awards Program. Data were collected using the Science Teaching Issue Opinionnaire (STIO) and a questionnaire, both developed and validated by the investigator. The STIO used a semantic differential format; it was composed of 23 STS education affiliated concepts (e.g., science; technology; students' need to understand the interrelationships among science, technology, and society; my ability to teach …), each followed by 13 seven-point bipolar adjective scales (alpha reliability = 0.97). The instruments were distributed and returned by mail. The exemplary science teachers were found to hold positive opinions of (1) science, (2) technology, (3) their understanding of science, and (4) their ability to teach science. The teachers expressed slightly positive opinions of (1) students' understanding of STS, (2) students' need to understand STS, (3) their own understanding of STS interrelationships, and (4) their ability to teach STS. The teachers suggested that 15% of secondary science course instructional time be dedicated to STS, but did not appear to dedicate near that amount of time to STS. “Pollution” headed a brief and rather predictable list of STS issues infused into science courses. On average a teacher infused 2.5 STS issues into a science course. The discussion, lecture, and a combination of these dominated the list of 35 instructional procedures which are not unique to or necessarily appropriate for STS instruction.

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