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Socioscientific Decision Making in the Science Classroom: The Effect of Embedded Metacognitive Instructions on Students' Learning Outcomes

DOI: 10.1155/2013/309894

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The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of cooperative training strategies to enhance students' socioscientific decision making as well as their metacognitive skills in the science classroom. Socioscientific decision making refers to both “describing socioscientific issues” as well as “developing and evaluating solutions” to socioscientific issues. We investigated two cooperative training strategies which differed with respect to embedded metacognitive instructions that were developed on the basis of the IMPROVE method. Participants were 360 senior high school students who studied either in a cooperative learning setting (COOP), a cooperative learning setting with embedded metacognitive questions (COOP+META), or a nontreatment control group. Results indicate that students in the two training conditions outperformed students in the control group on both processes of socioscientific decision making. However, students in the COOP+META condition did not outperform students in the COOP condition. With respect to students' learning outcomes on the regulation facet of metacognition, results indicate that all conditions improved over time. Students in the COOP+META condition exhibited highest mean scores at posttest measures, but again, results were not significant. Implications for integrating metacognitive instructions into science classrooms are discussed. 1. Introduction Over the past decades curriculum authorities as well as science educators and researchers worldwide have called for changes in the way science is taught at schools (e.g., [1–4]). Modern science education should not only foster the acquisition of scientific content knowledge but engage students in scientific inquiry, in lifelong learning and in discussions about modern science problems, their technological applications as well as their personal and societal implications [1–5]. In a similar vein, the implementation of socioscientific issues into the science classroom has been proposed for more than two decades (e.g., [6–10]). Socioscientific issues represent modern science problems, such as global climate change or the loss of worldwide biodiversity, that are tightly linked to social, political, and economical concerns (e.g., [11]). They are complex, real-world scenarios at the interplay between science and society and thus, can no longer be solved by relying on scientific knowledge only [8, 10, 11]. Consequently, they fundamentally challenge the aims and scope of traditional science instruction. A growing body of research within the area of science education highlights

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