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High school students debate the use of embryonic stem cells: the influence of context on decision making

[journal article]

Molinatti, Grégoire; Girault, Yves; Hammond, Constance

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-233587

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Abstract The present study analyses decision-making and argumentation by high school students in a debate situation on a socioscientific issue, the use of embryonic stem cells in research and therapy. We tested the influence on the debates of two different contexts. Adolescent students at the high school level in the same grade (mean age 16.4 years) from rural and urban zones of Provence, France participated in three debate sessions. During the first session students listed the background questions they want to ask the expert(s). They were also required to identify one or two major issues that would serve as an outline for the future debate. They then discussed these with the expert(s) during the second session and took note of the answers. During this session, control groups met with a neuroscientist whereas the experimental "contextualized" group met with the same neuroscientist together with a representative of an association of patients suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. Analysis of the students' arguments and decision-making revealed that contextualization introduced dynamism in the students' exchanges: they paid more attention to their peers' arguments and were more motivated to argue their own opinion. However, this type of contextualization may contribute to reinforcing ideology in scientific progress. Keywords: debate, socioscientific issue, argumentation, contextualization, expertise, decision-making, human embryonic stem cells.
Classification Secondary Education Sector Upper Level; Philosophy, Ethics, Religion
Free Keywords argumentation; contextualization; debate; decision-making; expertise; human embryonic stem cells; socio-scientific issue; biotechnology education; ethics; qualitative research; science education
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 2235-2251
Journal International Journal of Science Education, 32 (2010) 16
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500691003622612
Status Postprint; reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)