Preparing scientifically literacy citizens: evidence on pre-service teacher candidates’ difficulties in critically examining news-media reports.

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Eva Erdosne Toth
Meadow S. Graham


Scientifically literate citizens are able to evaluate news reports and formulate evidence-based responses to everyday problems. Yet our formal schooling is limited in preparing literate citizens, especially in the context of responding to news on discoveries in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) that yield products to improve human condition. Using an exploratory, descriptive design, this study documented how 14 pre-service elementary teacher candidates’ critical examination of news media reports as they developed arguments about the use products from STEM discoveries in response to dire human need. The results indicated candidates’ difficulties in combining factual, “hard” evidence with personal perspectives. As a result their integration of evidence to develop well-supported arguments for civic action was limited. Instead of processing the meaning of information, candidates reverted to trust or doubt the source of evidence or the motivation of stakeholders in the socio-scientific issue at hand. The findings suggest the need for additional studies on the evidence-interpretation processes of pre-service teacher candidates, especially in the context of news reports about STEM discoveries for improving human-condition. By better understanding the argument and reasoning processes of teacher candidates, we can improve the preparation of our citizens for evidence-based civic action based on news-media reports.  

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Research / Empirical