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The use of ethical frameworks by students following a new science course for 16-18 year-olds

Reiss, Michael (2008) The use of ethical frameworks by students following a new science course for 16-18 year-olds. Science and Education, 17 (8-9). pp. 889-902. ISSN 0926-7220

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Abstract

There has been a move in recent years towards the greater inclusion of social and ethical issues within science courses. This paper examines a new context-based course for 16-18 year-olds (Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology) who are studying biology in England and Wales. The course is taught through contexts and has an emphasis on social issues and the development of ethical reasoning. Examination of a sample of reports written by students in 2005 as part of the course's summative assessment shows that utilitarian ethical reasoning is used widely and that the other ethical frameworks to which students are introduced in the course – rights and duties, autonomy and virtue ethics – are used substantially less often. In addition, students mostly argue anthropocentrically though many of them argue ecocentrically and/or biocentrically too.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: School science is increasingly expecting students to be able to reason ethically. However, almost nothing is known about the extent to which students are capable of so doing. In this paper, published in one of the top international journals in science education, I analyse 17 reports, all the ones written that year nationally on the subject of global warming, and each of about 1500 words, written by 16-17 year-olds taking one of the advanced level biology courses to determine the sort of ethical reasoning employed by students. I show that utilitarian ethical reasoning is used widely and that the other ethical frameworks to which students are introduced in the course re used substantially less often. The findings are used to discuss the extent to which science students and their teachers need support if they are to learn to reason ethically. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Divisions: IOE Departments > Departments > Geography, Enterprise, Mathematics and Science
IOE Departments > Departments > Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
Depositing User: Katie Mooney
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2009 15:12
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2013 12:01
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