Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

The Impact of a Socioscientific Issues Teaching Approach in an Undergraduate General Education Science Course

Radzilowicz, John G. (2021) The Impact of a Socioscientific Issues Teaching Approach in an Undergraduate General Education Science Course. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (2MB) | Preview


This Dissertation in Practice explored the impact of deploying a Socioscientific Issues (SSI) teaching methodology in undergraduate general science education. It was motivated by my desire to accrue positive increases in educational outcomes, and to assess its efficacy in developing critical Socioscientific Reasoning (SSR) skills, for my students, and the students of faculty with whom I work. Students could potentially benefit from deploying those skills in the highly charged arena of the current debates surrounding the intersection of scientific knowledge, social issues, and public policy.

The SSI framework has had a significant impact in K-12 education over the last two decades in areas related to the development of functional scientific literacy. The framework is focused on contextualizing science content through real-world scenarios dealing with science, social conflict, and public policy. Its teaching strategies highlight the complexity of issues, the primacy of perspective-taking developed through discussion and productive argumentation, guided inquiry activities aimed at collecting and analyzing data, and skepticism through evaluation of sources and justification of claims. The central organizing principle of SSI is the development and growth of Socioscientific Reasoning – a reasoning method that includes all these components, but adds the social dimensions of tolerance, mutual respect, and moral sensitivity. K-12 research indicates that SSI contributes to positive gains in student content knowledge, reasoning ability, and scientific literacy, as well as understanding and appreciation of complex social situations.

In the last several years, some of the researchers behind the development of the SSI model have attempted to explore its efficacy in the undergraduate university setting. This has included the development and testing of a quantitative assessment tool designed to measure changes in SSR at the undergraduate level. It has been deployed in undergraduate general education science courses.

This study implemented an SSI teaching strategy in a general education astronomy course. It employed the quantitative assessment tool, and qualitative text-based sentiment analysis, to explore the impact on student SSR. Results raise questions about the usefulness of the current SSR quantitative tool. However, AI driven text analysis of student written discussions produces interesting results with actionable implications for my professional practice.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Radzilowicz, John G.jgradz@pitt.edujgradz
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLesgold, Alan
Committee MemberCrowley, Kevincrowleyk@pitt.educrowleyk0000-0002-6798-9189
Committee MemberKosowsky, Arthurkosowsky@pitt.edukosowsky0000-0002-3734-331X
Date: 21 May 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 April 2021
Approval Date: 21 May 2021
Submission Date: 19 April 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 225
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: socioscientific issues, science education, undergraduate teaching, science communication
Date Deposited: 21 May 2021 15:18
Last Modified: 21 May 2021 15:25


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item