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Preservice science teachers’ informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues and the factors influencing their informal reasoning

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2008
Topçu, Mustafa Sami
The main purpose of this study was to explore Preservice Science Teachers’ (PSTs) informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues (SSI). The study first investigated PSTs’ informal reasoning patterns; second, explored the relationship between informal reasoning patterns and quality; third, examined the variation of informal reasoning quality with SSI; at last, focused on the factors influencing PSTs’ informal reasoning in the context of SSI. Totally, 39 PSTs voluntarily participated in the study. Senior elementary PSTs from a public university, in Ankara constituted the sample of this study. Seven SSI were used to explore informal reasoning and influencing factors. Three SSI dealt with gene therapy and, the other three issues dealt with cloning. The last issue dealt with global warming. PSTs’ informal reasoning and the factors influencing the participants’ informal reasoning in the context of SSI were analyzed by using constant comparative data analysis method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Two interview protocols were used in the present study. Informal Reasoning Interview protocol focused on the investigation of informal reasoning, and Moral Decision-Making Interview protocol was used to identify informal reasoning and the factors influencing informal reasoning. Emergent informal reasoning patterns from the present study were: rationalistic, emotive, and intuitive informal reasoning patterns. Regarding informal reasoning quality, across each SSI, the participants easily revealed claim with or without justification but they hardly developed counter-position and rebuttal. Emergent frequency of informal reasoning quality types followed the same order across each SSI. Thus, informal reasoning quality was not context-dependent across all SSI. Main factors influencing participants’ informal reasoning were accumulated under four main categories; personal experiences, social considerations, moral-ethical considerations, and technological concerns.