L’ús de les controvèrsies sociocientífiques per promoure la competència científica a l’educació secundària: el cas de la medicalització i el TDA-H

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


The main objective of the thesis The use of socioscientific issues as a way to promote the scientific competence in secondary education: the case of medicalization and ADHD is to describe, analyze and interpret the development of the scientific competence in high school students (aged 14 to 17) following the deployment of a SSI context-based teaching unit. With this goal in mind, we defined three objectives. The first one deals with the study of the development of knowledge of the content of science, the second, with the development of knowledge about the scientific enquiry, and the third, with the analysis of the reasons with which students base their decisions in situations that may be quotidian. To achieve these objectives, linked to the three aspects that according to the OECD define scientific competence, a qualitative-interpretative research was carried out. In order to collect research data, a teaching unit based on two current SSI (medicalization of society and ADHD) was designed. After validating its design with experts and conducting a pilot test in June 2011, six teachers implemented it in five high schools of Catalonia between the months of February and June 2012. A total of 399 high school students (116 aged 14-15 and 283 aged 16 to 17) participated. In this research, the students’ written answers to some of the activities of this unit were studied in a qualitative and quantitative analysis of contents with an interpretative and prospective nature. The results obtained show that, regarding the first research objective, the students, through the study of the action of a common painkiller have been able to build a more holistic understanding of the functioning of the human body and to apply this knowledge to explain the generation of side effects. We also created a useful rubric to evaluate the development of the students’ knowledge about the relationship between the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems when a drug enters the body. Regarding the second objective, we have detected that through the design of experiments aimed to solve a real and controversial problem, and through the analysis of the information and the reliability of scientific studies that dealt with a same issue but came to divergent results, students started to break the "myth of the scientific method" and improved their recognition and understanding of the scientific disagreement inherent within SSI and of the development of scientific knowledge. Finally, regarding the third objective, we found that emotions (emotional dimension), values (psychological dimension), scientific knowledge (scientific cognitive dimension) and common knowledge (quotidian cognitive dimension) are the arguments with which students base their decisions about self-medication. The role that each of these dimensions play, however, depends on the degree of familiarity towards the situation and on whether the problem to medicate is physical or psychological. In parallel, we identified three profiles of positioning (experiential, credulous and critic) and confirmed that, after the intervention, the students become more critical and able to soundly justify their decisions about self-medication. Based on these results, we can affirm that the implementation of the SSI context-based teaching unit helped the participants of this research to become more scientifically competent. Therefore, the main contributions of this thesis are: the creation of a rubric with criteria to select an appropriate SSI to incorporate into science classes, the design of a teaching unit contextualized in a SSI that is meaningful for students, the development of rubrics that are applicable to research (as instruments of analysis) and in the classroom (to diagnose and assess the knowledge of the students), and, finally, the definition of a series of implications for promoting the scientific competence in students.
Date of Award26 Sept 2014
Original languageCatalan
SupervisorConcepcio Marquez Bargallo (Director) & Montserrat Roca Tort (Director)


  • Scientific competence
  • Socio-Sicentific i isseus
  • High school

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