Justifying decision making in socio-scientific issues: the roles of reasoning and knowledge

Keren Dalyot, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the recent decade, the proliferation of ICTs that require Wi-Fi routers in schools has been accompanied by public concerns about risks fueled in many cases by media reporting. The current study examines ways in which parents of school-age children perceive the issue of Wi-Fi radiation in schools by using a science literacy framework that examined engagement with Wi-Fi as a socio-scientific issue. In this messy epistemological space, where parents are faced with too much information of uneven quality, the science literacy literature expects them to reach an informed decision. This mixed-method study includes interviews (study I, n = 35) and questionnaires (study II, n = 513) with parents to explore their attitudes, decisions, and justifications regarding questions about Wi-Fi in schools. The interviews demonstrated heuristics and shortcuts used for decision-making. Considerations often did not include in-depth investigation or scientific knowledge. The questionnaire further examined the patterns identified in the interviews and how they related to socio-demographics and scientific background. Findings indicate that neither scientific reasoning nor relevant knowledge was necessarily connected with the decisions made or the justification given by the parents. This should be of interest to future educational programs focusing on promoting science literacy for informed citizenship.

Keywords

  • mixed-method research
  • non-ionizing radiation
  • Science in daily life
  • science literacy

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Communication

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