Teachers’ choice of content and consideration of controversial and sensitive issues in teaching of secondary school genetics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Science education strives to increase interest in science and facilitate active citizenship. Thus, the aspects of personal and societal relevance are increasingly emphasised in science curricula. Still, little is known about how teachers choose content for their teaching, although their choices translate curricula to teaching practice. We explored how teachers choose genetics content and contexts for biology courses on cells, heredity and biotechnology by interviewing ten Finnish upper-secondary school teachers. We studied how the teachers described teaching on three themes in which they have varying freedom afforded by curricula: genetically modified organisms, hereditary disorders, and complex human traits. We analysed interviews with theory-guiding content analysis and found consistent patterns in teachers' perceptions of the themes in genetics teaching and teacher inclinations towards teaching genetics in human context. These patterns, which we call emphasis of content in genetics teaching were Developmental, Structural and Hereditary. Teachers with Developmental emphasis embraced teaching genetics in a human context, while teachers with a Structural emphasis avoided them. In general, teachers justified their choices by national, local school, and personal factors. While teachers mentioned that societal and personal contexts are important, at the same time teachers never framed the main themes in genetics with these contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Volume41
Issue number18
Pages (from-to)2716-2735
Number of pages20
ISSN0950-0693
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences
  • Genetics content
  • curriculum
  • biology education
  • socioscientific issues
  • SOCIO-SCIENTIFIC ISSUES
  • SOCIOSCIENTIFIC ISSUES
  • SCIENCE-EDUCATION
  • STUDENTS ARGUMENTATION
  • QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
  • CURRICULUM
  • PERCEPTIONS
  • BELIEFS
  • BIOLOGY
  • KNOWLEDGE
  • ESERA 2019

    Tuomas Aivelo (Attendee)

    26 Sept 201930 Sept 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

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