Débats / Discussion Notes. The Technology/Education Interface: STES Education for All

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1 Débats / Discussion Notes The Technology/Education Interface: STES Education for All Uri Zoller haifa university TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION: THE PROBLEM Most people see technology as the know-how and the creativity to use tools, resources, and systems to solve problems and to enhance control over natural and man-made environments to improve the human condition. Three major implications follow from this view: technology is good and all kinds of technological development are desirable; anything that facilitates technological advancement should be encouraged; and education should impart the technical training and skills required by the technological enterprise. Does any technological development necessarily improve our quality of life? What are the trade-offs of any implemented new technology? Should a particular technology be implemented in the first place? Such questions commonly are not dealt with in traditional science education. In ordering priorities and goals, after all, one implies value judgments. But such judgments should be encouraged and fostered in technology education, and this means distinguishing between technical literacy (having the practical ability to handle or use the stuff ) and being technologically literate (having the capacity to critically assess technology, as a basis for rational decision making and action). Although science and technology may establish what can technically be done, neither can tell us what should be done (Zoller & Watson, 1974). The crucial problem is not the technical aspects of handling and processing information, but rather the reasoned ability to select and to interpret critically available information. This is the deep-rooted rationale for science-technology-society (STS) education (Aikenhead, 1989; Bybee, 1987; Science Council of Canada, 1984; Yager, 1985; Zoller, 1987b). Those advocating the STS theme across the curriculum believe technology literacy is the combined functional capability to understand and communicate the interactions among science, technology, and society; to assess technology; and to exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. STS should, thus, be mandatory for every student. 86 CANADIAN JOURNAL OF EDUCATION 17:1 (1992)

2 DÉBATS / DISCUSSION NOTES 87 Technology literacy for citizenship means science and technology for social, technological, and political purposes the participation of every citizen in decision-making. THE TECHNOLOGY/EDUCATION INTERFACE The ability to make the best technological decisions, or to make decisions on science/technology/environment/society (STES)-related issues depends substantially on education. Such decisions require interdisciplinary knowledge, critical thinking, and a system approach (inclusive thinking). This contrasts with the discipline-based way science is presently taught. STES literacy, summarized as the STES problem solving (PS) decision making (DM) act (Zoller, 1987b, 1990), has a complex meaning. It requires the ability to look at a problem and its implications and to recognize it as a problem, to see its factual core of knowledge and concepts involved, and to appreciate the significance and meaning of alternative resolutions. It implies problem solving (not exercise solving) to recognize/select the relevant information, to evaluate the dependability of resources used and their degree of bias, and to devise/plan appropriate procedures/strategies for dealing further with the problem(s). It involves clarifying value structures/positions and making value judgments (and defending them), making rational choices between available alternatives, or generating new options. And finally, it means acting on one s decision, and taking responsibility therefor. Functional STES literacy goes beyond exercise solving. It requires critical thinking, that is, reflective and reasoned thinking about what to believe or do, and taking action accordingly (Ennis, 1985). We expect students exposed to STES education not to solve the big problems, but rather to take positions, based on their cognitive analyses and value systems, and to act accordingly. Social-technical problems are multidimensional, with far-reaching implications; decisions about actions must, then, be made under high uncertainty, and the student/problem solver in STES courses faces difficult and highly demanding tasks. SCIENCE EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION STES EDUCATION Although the education community recognizes the importance of STS or STES education for all (Bybee, 1987; McCormick, 1990; Waks, 1986; Yager, 1986; Zoller, 1987b), contemporary science teaching (from the junior high level and up) is still disciplinary and in the cognitive domain, often sterile, lacking in social relevance, and based on textbooks presenting neat and clear-cut theories, rules of nature, and correct solutions to problems. It calls, further, for exercise-solving skills (mainly the application of alreadyknown algorithms), but not problem-solving skills (Zoller, 1987a). Solutions to exercises require factual and formal knowledge rather than reasoning and

3 88 DÉBATS / DISCUSSION NOTES the application of value judgments. Science teaching typically appeals to knowledge and comprehension, but rarely to analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It encourages the formal problem-solver technician and discourages the qualitative or creative reasoner. Science teaching thus propagates the naïve conviction that science and technology can establish both what we can do, and what we should do. In contrast, STES education aims to foster critical thinking and to encourage the application of value judgment through synthesis of general strategic knowledge and of specialized domain knowledge. In shifting emphasis from academic science to life-oriented science and technology education, two orientations are noteworthy: computer information technology (CIT) (Disessa, 1987; Rushby, 1987), and diversified STESoriented education (Aikenhead, 1989; Bybee 1987; Solomon, 1983; Zoller, 1991a, 1991b). Although these two orientations are not necessarily mutually exclusive, they are clearly and distinctly different in educational outlook, emphasis, and goal. CIT advocates emphasize the cognitive consequences of advanced technology: the ways we deal with learning; the imperative to respond to the computer challenge; and the production through formal education of informed and skilled individuals, capable of high-technology enterprise (Disessa, 1987; Rushby, 1987; Waks, 1986). STES advocates emphasize the social, cultural, environmental, and political consequences of advanced technologies and the implications of uncontrolled technological development. STES education is political. It aims at active involvement and responsible student-citizen action. It aims deliberately to move students from unconscious automaticity to conscious awareness of decisions and behaviours. Value-laden decisions must be made. To take no decision is to decide. STES requires system thinking (inclusive thinking) and the application of value judgments (Catodu, 1985; Zoller, 1987b, 1990a). These two crucial components contrast with current practices in traditional science teaching. The STES approach requires education for problem solving, not exercise solving, and for decision making for action (Zoller, 1987a, 1987b). Teachers can no longer be the sole providers of knowledge, through mediating textbooks, to students. Rather, they should play guiding and colearning roles, be able to design an enquiry-oriented learning environment, and shift emphasis from imparting knowledge to students to developing students higher-order skills. A representative example of recently adopted STES-style science curriculum is the course Science and Technology 11 (ST 11), developed and implemented province-wide in British Columbia in 1986 (Gaskell, 1987; Williams, 1988). It is the first STES-type course in the western world implemented on a state (province) scale. Regrettably, the impact of the STES orientation on science teaching is still limited in Canada. Research in Canada concluded that no positive change of students attitude toward science (and technology) occurred with-

4 DÉBATS / DISCUSSION NOTES 89 out students being exposed directly to STES-oriented programs (Ebenezer & Zoller, in press). Several superordinate goals of ST 11 typical of STES courses worldwide have been attained (Zoller et al., 1990), but the course s survival may depend on its gaining an academic status and on more space being created in the system of graduation requirements (Gaskell, 1987). These findings demonstrate the positive effect of ST 11 and suggest educational goals in other STES-type courses and curricula may also be attainable. Further research demonstrated teaching of this STS course achieved education rather than indoctrination (Zoller, Donn, Wild, & Beckett, 1991). RECOMMENDATIONS Our specific recommendations are as follows: 1. introduce STES into schools and expand STES education components aimed at all students, through the development and implementation of appropriate interdisciplinary, critical system-thinking oriented units, courses, curricula and comprehensive programs in science, vocational subjects, health and consumer education, and in the social studies; 2. emphasize a divergent, critical-thinking orientation; 3. introduce the system-thinking (inclusive-thinking) approach into school teaching, courses, and curricula, particularly in STES-oriented courses; 4. emphasize independent study and student projects in class work and homework. Use corresponding evaluation devices (Zoller, 1990b); 5. plan, design and implement academically prestigious and intellectually challenging pre-service and inservice teacher training programs for STES education; 6. promote secondary-school STES courses (and acceptance of the STES rationale). CONCLUSION STES education aims at the educated person: The educated person is... a thinking individual, capable of making independent decisions based on analysis and reason. The individual is curious, capable of and interested in learning, capable of acquiring and imparting information, and able to draw from a broad knowledge base....the individual has sound interpersonal skills, morals and values, and respects others who may be different [and] understands the rights and responsibilities of an individual within the family, community, nation and the world. (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 1987) The crucial problems of our time are not the technical aspects of handling and processing information, but rather its selective use and critical interpretation.

5 90 DÉBATS / DISCUSSION NOTES REFERENCES Aikenhead, G.S. (1989). Categories of STS instruction. STS Research Network Missive, 3(2), Bybee, R.W. (1987). Science education and the science-technology-society (S-T-S) theme. Science Education, 71, British Columbia Ministry of Education, Curriculum Development Branch. (1987, April). Curriculum goals and principles: A position paper (draft for discussion). Victoria: Author. Disessa, A.A. (1987). The third revolution in computers and education. Bulletin of Science Technology and Society, 6, Ebenezer, J.V., & Zoller, U. (in press). The no change in high school students attitudes toward science in a period of change: A probe into the case of British Columbia. School Science and Mathematics. Ennis, R.H. (1985). A logical basis for measuring critical thinking skills. Educational Leadership, 43(2), Gaskell, P.J. (1987, August). Science and technology in British Columbia: A course in search of a community. Paper presented to the 4th International Symposium on World Trends in Science and Technology Education, Kiel, West Germany. McCormick, R. (1990). Technology and the national curriculum: The creation of a subject by committee. Curriculum Journal, 1 (1), Rushby, N. (Ed.) (1987). Technology-based learning. London: Kogan Page. Science Council of Canada. (1984). Science for every student: Educating Canadians for tomorrow s world. Ottawa: Queen s Printer. Solomon, J. (1983). Science in a social context (SISCON) in schools. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Waks, L.J. (1986). Reflections on technological literacy. Bulletin of Science Technology, and Society, 6, Williams, D.J.R. (1988, February). SCT 11: The British Columbia experience. Paper presented at the Greater Edmonton Teachers Convention, Edmonton, Alberta. Yager, R.E. (1985). An alternative view. Journal of College Science Teaching, 14, Yager, R.E. (1986). To start an STS course in K 12 settings. Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society, 6, Zoller, U. (1987a). The fostering of question-asking capability: A meaningful aspect of problem-solving in chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 64, Zoller, U. (1987b). Problem-solving and decision-making in science-technologyenvironment-society (S/T/E/S) education. In K. Requarts (Ed.), Science and technology and education and the quality of life: Vol. 2. Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on World Trends in Science and Technology Education (pp ). Kiel, West Germany: IPN Materialen. Zoller, U. (1990a). Environmental education and the university: The problem solving decision making act within a critical system thinking framework. Higher Education in Europe, 15(4), Zoller, U. (1990b). The Individualized Eclectic Examination (IEE): An STS approach. Journal of College in Science Teaching, 19,

6 DÉBATS / DISCUSSION NOTES 91 Zoller, U. (1991a). The internationalization of STS. In R.E. Yager (Ed.), What research says about the STS movement (NSTA monographs, vol. 6). Washington, D.C.: National Science Teachers Association. Zoller, U. (1991b). Problem solving and the problem solving paradox in decision-making oriented environmental education. In S. Keiny & U. Zoller (Eds.), Conceptual issues in environmental education (pp ). New York: Peter Lang. Zoller, U., Donn, S., Wild, R., & Beckett, P. (1991). Teachers beliefs and views on selected science-technology-society (S/T/S) Topics: A probe into STS literacy vs. indoctrination. Science Education, 75, Zoller, U., Ebenezer, J., Morley, K., Paras, S., Sandberg, V., West, C., Wolthers, T., & Tan, S.H. (1990). Goals attainment in science-technology-society (S-T-S) education and reality: The case of British Columbia. Science Education, 74, Zoller, U., & Watson, R.G. (1974). Technology education for nonscience students in secondary school. Science Education, 58,

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