Perspectives of 8th Grade Students with Different Epistemological Beliefs on Genetic Themed Socio-scientific Issues*
While examining the characteristics of a scientifically literate person, it is of great importance howthey define new information, how they combine it with the information that is they already know,how they evaluate it and what kind of a conclusion they reach, in other words, their epistemologicalbeliefs. Besides, an individual considered as a scientifically literate should be able to have enoughscientific information, at a level that he/she can have an opinion on the issues concerning bothhim/herself and the society, be able to access the information and interpret it, and also take part inthe decision-making process. This study focuses on the perspectives of secondary school studentswho have different epistemological beliefs related to socio-scientific issues. Mixed design approach,which uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods, has been implemented in this study.The quantitative dimension of the study designed as a survey; while, the qualitative dimension isbased on a phenomenological design in order to determine students’ opinions about a case. In thefirst phase of the study epistemological beliefs of 464 - 8th grade students were identified andafterwards a group of 49 students, which consists of 25 sophisticated (advanced) and 24 naive(undeveloped) students with regard to their epistemological beliefs, were created in order todetermine the group members’ socio-scientific opinions on genetics. For this purpose, Socio-ScientificIssues Assessment Form, which includes open-ended questions and case study assessments preparedby researchers, was applied. This study includes a discussion of the students’ socio-scientificopinions on genetics, which was focused on in the second phase of the research. The results indicatedthat the sophisticated students have more comprehensive opinions than the naive ones in term oftheir views on genetic themed socio-scientific issues. In this context, it is suggested to focus ondeveloping the epistemological beliefs of the students in order to improve students’ science literacy.Thus, it is estimated that their perspectives of socio-scientific issues in the social decision-makingprocess will provide benefits to the society.