Critical thinking and socio-scientific issues. A study in scenarios of teacher training. Universidad de Valencia ( Spain). Science Education Department, Facultat de Magister

Dissertation date: 13/06/2014

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jordi Solbes

Doctoral Committee: Begoña Maritnez, Maria Jose Gil, Mercedes Jaen, Carles Furio, Atonio de Pro, Valentin Gavidia.


This research study the influence of socio-scientific issues in critical thinking competencies in a group of students training as Natural Science and Environmental Education teachers.

For this purpose, we do the following research questions: What are the concepts that students and science teachers have about critical thinking? What critical thinking competencies of college students are in the field of socio-scientific issues?  Does science education promote these competencies? How do socio-scientific issues affect or not the development of critical thinking competencies in vocational training of these students?

To answer these questions, a systematic review of the literature related to critical thinking and the use of the socio-scientific issues.  An analysis of the concept of critical thinking in the field of philosophy, critical pedagogy and the teaching of science allowed to argue that critical thinking is a set of skills that people have to structure their own way of thinking. It allows them to distinguish veracity of the arguments and take positions on social situations to develop an active role in them. Socio-scientific issues develop the following competencies: see science as a social activity; learn to question information; understand the multidimensional nature of science (ethical, social, economic, political), develop ethical judgments and draw conclusions adequately supported.

To respond to these questions the following working hypotheses were raised: Critical thinking is a social, science is poorly promoted in science education and Critical thinking consists of a set of skills that can be developed through  socio-scientific issues

This research was planned in three stages: diagnosis, intervention and evaluation. A questionnaire on conceptions of critical thinking and socio-scientific issues was applied to preservice teachers (N = 62) and in service ones (N = 55). Another questionnaire on socio-scientific issues was used as pretest: the privatization of electricity in the region.

The intervention is performed with 56 students. Three teaching sequences in  work groups in the classroom are developed with the following issues: the characterization of critical thinking (using examples from various scientific), coffee processing and the use of glyphosate.

Evaluation is performed by means of qualitative and quantitative analysis of the contributions of groups at work, teaching programs and  comparations of results of pre applied again as a posttest.

Results of the critical thinking questionnaire show that teachers report that lack an  articulation of disciplinary with the critical thinking. They also indicate that in science classes prevails transmission of content and accumulation of concepts and formulas. The pre questionnaire shows that all competencies obtained values ​​below 50%. Regarding to intervention, the analysis of the contributions of groups, shows that there is an evolution in the study of socio-scientific issues. The post indicates significant improvements in each critical competencies established in the study.  Qualitative analysis allows to visualize the emerging categories.

These results indicate the advantages of implementing teaching strategies and introduce  socio-scientific issues topics in teacher education programs. This will have implications for formal and non-formal processes that promote critical thinking in science class.

Thesis full reference

Torres, N. (2014). Pensamiento crítico y cuestiones socio-científicas. Un estudio en escenarios de Formación docente. Tesis de Doctorado, Universidad de Valencia.

Publications related to the dissertation

Solbes, J; Torres, N. and Traver, M. (2018). Use of socio-scientific issues in order to improve critical thinking competences. Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 19 (1), Article 5.

Torres, N., & Cristancho, J. (2018). Analysis of the forms of argumentation of teachers in training in the context of a socio-scientific issue. Journal of Turkish Science Education, 11(1), 3-23.

Torres, N y Solbes, J. (2018). Pensamiento crítico desde cuestiones socio-científicas.  En D.M. Conrado; N. Nunes (Eds), Questões sociocientíficas: fundamentos, propostas de ensino e perspectivas para ações sociopolíticas(pp, 59-76). Salvador, Brasil. EDUFBA.

Torres, N., & Solbes, J. (2016). Contribuciones de una intervención didáctica usando cuestiones socio-científicas para desarrollar el pensamiento crítico. Enseñanza de las ciencias: revista de investigación y experiencias didácticas, 34(2), 43-65.



Dr. Nidia Yaneth Torres Merchán

Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia

Department of Education

Av, Norte Tunja- Colombia