S&T Education Resources
Developing Expertise and Motivation to Address STSE Issues
Welcome! This page provides ideas, downloadable resources and links to relevant websites relating to STSE Education - which is aimed at helping students to develop realistic conceptions about and take appropriate actions regarding relationships amongst science, technology, society and environment. STSE Education, along with NoST and Skills Education, can, collectively, be thought of as Procedural Education. STSE Education also is part of the STEPWISE curricular and instructional framework. If you have comments, questions, suggestions, resources ideas, etc. about anything here, please write to me about them. Thanks.
Assessment & Evaluation.
is the acronym referring to relationships among: Science, Technology, Society &
Such relationships are shown graphically at right.
It is important to note that relationships can be:
or neutral and ii) conscious (planned) or sub-conscious
(unplanned). In order to determine relationships
among these four elements, it also is important to
have realistic conceptions of each element. We
must, for instance, have realistic conceptions of
the nature of science and technology - which is
addressed at: NoST
Education. We must also
understand the nature of societies (e.g.,
sociology) and environments (e.g., ecology and
environmental sciences), but these are only
addressed here in terms of STSE education. The balance of this
page addresses STSE Education.
|The model below is an alternative way
of depicting STSE relationships. It indicates that
science and technology sometimes operate independently
and sometimes operate interactively. It places both,
though, in the context of societies which, in turn, are
situated in environments. It also stresses the need for
a focus on Sociopolitical
('WISE') Activism to address Socioscientific Issues.
STEM in Relationships with Societies & Environments (and entities within them).
With advent of 'STEM' education initiatives, it is tempting to add engineering & mathematics to the STSE mix. Although the model below may do this reasonably-well, we have to keep in mind that - at least based on actor network theory - that STEM fields are dynamically and, to a great extent, unpredictably, interrelated with many or most other 'entities,' including living, non-living and symbolic entities. Such a view makes it extremely difficult to depict science and technology (or STEM) in any kind of static, two-dimensional, way.
undoubtedly, many positive STSE relationships.
Various medical and surgical treatments, such as
heart surgery and antibiotic treatments have saved
and/or prolonged human lives. Our various
communication tools, such as open-source aspects of
the internet, have helped people share ideas and
cultural perspectives, etc. Such relationships need
to be celebrated. However, where there are problems
(or the hint of problems), they likely should be
addressed. There appear to be many STSE problems -
what I have called 'WISE
Problems.' Some of these are related to:
||Although there is
considerable controversy to causes of such problems,
there is much support for the notion that excessive
human orientation towards for-profit production and
consumption of goods and services is largely at
McMurtry (1999), a prominent philosopher and social
commentator, says that we are in the 'cancer
Briefly, like cancer, parts (extreme capitalists) of
our 'body' (Earth and its beings) have mutated in
ways that their actions are causing massive
degradation of our "life world." Often using
products of science and technology, the actions of
many companies and financiers appear to be leading
to considerable social and environmental
Perhaps because of the seriousness of problems like those mentioned at left, STSE Education is part of school curricula. This is, however, a neglected aspect of students' education in many educational situations. It is common, for example, for STSE to be addressed in terms of pointing out to students many of the positive products - such as medical devices, etc. - that may be attributed to science and technology. Possible negative STSE relationships are seldom mentioned. Without attention to such potential problems, clearly they are likely to persist and/or get worse. As indicated by the STSE framework above, humans are intimately connected to all other living things and their non-living environments. We can either choose to influence these in positive or negative ways.
|As mentioned above, STSE is part of
official ('sanctioned') curricula - such as
schools. It is apparent, however, that
many of the educational learning expectations
in this domain tend to be oriented towards
positive 'applications' of science and
technology - a tack tending to suggest that
science and technology are 'good,'
'successful' and 'beneficial.' While that is
not untrue in many cases, there are a number
areas of STSE relationships about which we
should be concerned (refer to WISE Problems).
A useful way of analyzing and planning for
STSE Education along these lines has been
developed by Derek Hodson, in "Time
for action: Science education for an alternative
He suggests that there are four 'levels' of
commitment to STSE education that are found in
science education; that is,
|As indicated above, there are different
teaching approaches for STSE Education. There are,
accordingly, many possible resources in support of many
of these approaches. Many of these are located at: STSE web links. A very
popular STSE Education approach is the 'case method';
that is, activities
('methods') that get students to interact with case
studies (also called documentaries) about some STSE
issue. Several of these are provided at: Action
BioScience. Some case methods are available for
field-testing by writing to me.
| Assessment and evaluation
(A&E) of students' expertise regarding STSE
issues is complex. It should be carried out
differently, depending on the phase of the
instructional model being used. When
getting students to express (demonstrate) their
pre-instructional ideas about issues, for example,
it is important to encourage them to freely
express their ideas - knowing there are no 'right'
answers. Accordingly, A&E at this stage should
emphasize effort. During the 'Learning Ideas'
phase of the instructional model, on the other
hand, teachers can use more traditional A&E
techniques - since the purpose in that phase of
learning is to teach particular ideas, concepts,
etc. However, because there is much controversy
about whether or not STSE relationships are
positive or negative (often due to a person's political
stance), all A&E in STSE Education must
be flexible - allowing for different perspectives,
as long as they appear logical. Indeed, room must
be reserved for students to decide what STSE
relationships make most sense to them. This
represents the Judging
Ideas phase of the
constructivism-informed instructional framework.
This is a crucial part of STSE education, since
decisions about STSE relationships and action(s)
stemming from them can - philosophically - only be
made in the context of 'real-life' situations,
involving many, often simultaneously changing and
interacting, variables. For example, decisions
about production and use of such manufactured
foods as potato chips are controversial and can
only be made through negotiation among various
'stakeholders'; such as among company
representatives, consumers, government officials,
scientists, lawyers, etc.
Specific suggestions for A&E in the area of STSE Education are provided at right.