Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Understandings of the nature of science and decision making on science and technology based issues Public Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/05741x08k

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  • Current reforms emphasize the development of scientific literacy as the principal goal of science education. The nature of science is considered a critical component of scientific literacy and is assumed to be an important factor in decision making on science and technology based issues. However, little research exists that delineates the role of the nature of science in decision making. The purpose of this investigation was to explicate the role of the nature of science in decision making on science and technology based issues and to delineate the reasoning and factors associated with these types of decisions. The 15-item, open-ended "Decision Making Questionnaire" (DMQ) based on four different scenarios concerning science and technology issues was developed to assess decision making. Twenty-one volunteer participants purposively selected from the faculty of geographically diverse universities completed the questionnaire and follow-up interviews. Participants were subsequently grouped according to their understandings of the nature of science, based on responses to a second open-ended questionnaire and follow-up interview. Profiles of each group's decision making were constructed, based on their previous responses to the DMQ and follow-up interviews. Finally, the two groups' decisions, decision making factors, and decision making strategies were compared. No differences were found between the decisions of the two groups, despite their disparate views of the nature of science. While their reasoning did not follow formal lines of argumentation, several influencing factors and general reasoning patterns were identified. Participants in both groups based their decisions primarily on personal values, morals/ethics, and social concerns. While all participants said they considered scientific evidence in their decision making, most did not require absolute "proof," even though Group B participants held more absolute conceptions of the nature of science. Overall, the nature of science did not figure prominently in either group's decisions. These findings contrast with the assumptions of the science education community and current reform efforts and call for a reexamination of the goals of nature of science instruction. Developing better decision making skills even on science and technology based issues -- may involve other factors, including more values-based instruction and attention to intellectual/moral development.
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