Hide/Show Apps

Preservice Science Teachers' Epistemological Beliefs and Informal Reasoning Regarding Socioscientific Issues

This study investigated preservice elementary science teachers' (PSTs) informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues (SSI), their epistemological beliefs, and the relationship between informal reasoning and epistemological beliefs. From several SSIs, nuclear power usage was selected for this study. A total of 647 Turkish PSTs enrolled in three large universities in Turkey completed the open-ended questionnaire, which assessed the participants' informal reasoning about the target SSI, and Schommer's (1990) Epistemological Questionnaire. The participants' epistemological beliefs were assessed quantitatively and their informal reasoning was assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively. The findings revealed that PSTs preferred to generate evidence-based arguments rather than intuitive-based arguments; however, they failed to generate quality evidence and present different types of evidence to support their claims. Furthermore, among the reasoning quality indicators, PSTs mostly generated supportive argument construction. Regarding the use of reasoning modes, types of risk arguments and political-oriented arguments emerged as the new reasoning modes. The study demonstrated that the PSTs had different epistemological beliefs in terms of innate ability, omniscient authority, certain knowledge, and quick learning. Correlational analyses revealed that there was a strong negative correlation between the PSTs' certain knowledge and counterargument construction, and there were negative correlations between the PSTs' innate ability, certain knowledge, and quick learning dimensions of epistemological beliefs and their total argument construction. This study has implications for both science teacher education and the practice of science education. For example, PST teacher education programs should give sufficient importance to training teachers that are skillful and knowledgeable regarding SSIs. To achieve this, specific SSI-related courses should form part of science teacher education programs.