The impact of a dedicated Science-Technology-Society (STS) course on student knowledge of STS content
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Teaching and Leadership
John W. Tillotson
Science-technology-societys, Nature of science, Nature of technology, Science education, Science literacy, VOSTS
Arts and Humanities | Chicana/o Studies | Education | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Science and Mathematics Education
In the last half century, public awareness of issues such as population growth, environmental pollution and the threat of nuclear war has pressured science education to reform to increase student social responsibility. The emerging Science-Technology-Society (STS) movement addressed these concerns by developing numerous strategies and curricula. Considerable diagnostic research has been conducted on student knowledge of the nature of science, but not on the wider scope of STS content (e.g., the nature of science and technology and their interactions with society). However, researchers have not widely studied the impact of comprehensive STS curricula on students' knowledge of STS content nor the nature of STS teaching practice that influenced this knowledge gain.
This study examined student success and teacher performance in a special STS course in Ontario, Canada. Research questions focused on the STS content knowledge gain by students completing this course and the impact of the STS teachers' teaching practices on this knowledge gain. Student data were collected using pre-course and post-course assessments of students' STS content knowledge. Teacher data were obtained using semi-structured interviews, classroom observations and videotapes.
Statistical analysis indicated that, after completing the STS course, students significantly increased their STS content knowledge as measured by the Views on Science Technology Society instrument. Gender and academic achievement had no significant impact on this knowledge gain, implying that this course, as taught by these teachers, could appeal to a wide range of students as a general education course.
The second part of the study indicated that detailed research is needed on the relationship between STS teaching practice and student STS content knowledge gain. The small sample size prevents generalizations but initial indications show that factors such constructivist teaching practices and strong teacher STS content knowledge may generate greater student knowledge gains than didactic teaching and weak teacher STS content knowledge. In this limited sample, it was found that constructivist teaching practice can overcome weak teacher STS content knowledge in increasing student STS content knowledge. In addition, other factors such as problem-solving and decision-making skills need to be studied as part of an overall framework for STS teaching.
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Barron, Paul E., "The impact of a dedicated Science-Technology-Society (STS) course on student knowledge of STS content" (2005). Teaching and Leadership - Dissertations. Paper 29.