Searching for scientific literacy and critical pedagogy in socioscientific curricula : a critical discourse analysis / by Kristina Marie Cummings.
The omnipresence of science and technology in our society require the development of a critical and scientifically literate citizenry. However, the inclusion of socioscientific issues, which are open-ended controversial issues informed by both science and societal factors such as politics, economics, and ethics, do not guarantee the development of these skills. The purpose of this critical discourse analysis is to identify and analyze the discursive strategies used in intermediate science texts and curricula that address socioscientific topics and the extent to which the discourses are designed to promote or suppress the development of scientific literacy and a critical pedagogy. Three curricula that address the issue of energy and climate change were analyzed using Gee’s (2011) building tasks and inquiry tools. The curricula were written by an education organization entitled PreSEES, a corporate-sponsored group called NEED, and a non-profit organization named Oxfam. The analysis found that the PreSEES and Oxfam curricula elevated the significance of climate change and the NEED curriculum deemphasized the issue. The PreSEES and Oxfam curricula promoted the development of scientific literacy while the NEED curricula suppressed its development. The PreSEES and Oxfam curricula both promoted the development of the critical pedagogy; however, only the Oxfam curricula provided authentic opportunities to enact sociopolitical change. The NEED curricula suppressed the development of critical pedagogy. From these findings, the following conclusions were drawn. When socioscientific issues are presented with the development of scientific literacy and critical pedagogy, the curricula allow students to develop fact-based opinions about the issue. However, curricula that address socioscientific issues without the inclusion of these skills minimize the significance of the issue and normalize the hegemonic worldview promoted by the curricula’s authors. Based on these findings, additional research is necessary to confirm the connection between the way curricula address a socioscientific issue and develop or suppress scientific literacy. Additionally, further analysis is necessary to confirm the connection between corporate-sponsored curricula and the suppression of socioscientific issues, scientific literacy, and critical pedagogy. Finally, this study addressed only the intended results of the curricula. Further research is necessary to measure the actual impacts of these curricula on students.
Cummings, Kristina Marie