New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

PBL Intervention Using a Socioscientific Issue in a Biology Didactics Course

Cristina Sousa, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto (Portugal)


Socioscientific issues (SSI) are “societal issues that have a scientific component as well as ethical, political, or religious dimensions” [1]. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) has been described to promote several skills, such as questioning, communication, argumentation and cooperation [2]. PBL is adequate to teach about SSI at diferent levels [3] and we hypothesize that can also promote effective learning in future teachers. Participants included a total of 10 students enrolled in a biology and geology didactics curricular unit of a university master’s program in biology and geology teaching (n = 10 voluntary participants, corresponding to the total number of students enrolled, 3 males and 7 females). Students, working in small-groups, were presented with a SSI problem about the consequences of introduction of invasive plants in ecosystems. Students working in small-groups (three or four elements), started by reading the problem-situation, identifying the themes they already knew, discussing (comparing and contrasting) individual prior ideas, thinking about questions and identifying what they needed to research and performed the investigation, and finally presenting a possible solution to the problem-situation.  Students were also asked to identify the controversial issue addressed in the problem and if they classify it as a SSI. A brief pre-posttest questionnaire was designed based on the literature on the subject [1] and content validity of the open items were checked by two experts. Students were able to distinguish between controversial issues in which society denies science, controversial issues within the scientific community and socioscientific issues. After the PBL unit preservice teachers were able to identify the advantages of the inclusion of SSI in the curricula. In conclusion, the applicability, and potentialities of this PBL using SSI in preservice teachers/Master students are discussed.

Keywords: Problem-Based Learning, Socioscientific issue, Biology didactics


[1] Borgerding, L. A. & Dagistan, M. (2018) Preservice science teachers’ concerns and approaches for teaching socioscientific and controversial issues, Journal of Science Teacher Education, 29:4, 283-306, DOI: 10.1080/1046560X.2018.1440860

[2] Wilder, S. (2015). Impact of problem-based learning on academic achievement in high school: a systematic review. Educational Review, 67(4), 414-435.

[3] Hernández-Ramos, J.; Pernaa, J.; Cáceres-Jensen, L.; Rodríguez-Becerra, J. (2021). The Effects of Using Socio-Scientific Issues and Technology in Problem-Based Learning: A Systematic Review. Educ. Sci. 11, 640. educsci11100640


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