Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a model of socioscientific issues-based instruction
Graham, Savannah Rae
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the need for scientific literacy skills. I used the pandemic as a socioscientific issue to help teach pre-service teachers science content, nature of science, and using real-world issues to teach science, which are essential knowledge and skills for scientific literacy. The model socioscientific issues-based unit focused on viruses and bacteria, viral transmission and invasion, and nature of science. To investigate content knowledge, nature of science understanding, and attitudes towards socioscientific issues, I conducted pre/post interviews, assessments, and weekly reflections. To explore teaching practice, I analyzed lesson plans the pre-service teachers created about a chosen socioscientific issue based on skills practiced in the model unit. While this approach helped improve their content and nature of scientific knowledge, the pre-service teachers did not always transfer these skills into their teaching practice. However, their attitudes and perceptions of socioscientific issues were positive after the unit.