Students' use of justifications in socioscientific argumentation

  • Rietz, Louise (PI)
  • Jönsson, Anders (Supervisor)
  • Lundström, Mats (Assistant supervisor)

Project Details


The study aims to explore upper secondary school students’ written argumentation regarding a socioscientific issue (SSI). Focus lies on how students justify their claims. The data consists of students’ texts and was collected at the end of an intervention designed to develop skills related to high quality argumentation.

SSI has been put forward to have the potential to place science content into a meaningful and relevant context and also to prepare students for life as citizens in a democratic society. Studies focusing on how students support their claims in socioscientific argumentation (SSA), show that students tend to base their arguments on values rather than knowledge. Students also have difficulties to construct arguments where claims and evidence connects to one another in an adequate way.

The intervention study took place in a chemistry class in a Swedish upper secondary school. A total of 24 students (age 16-17) from the science-, and technology-major programs participated in the study. The intervention was performed in eight steps during five weeks where the students practiced argumentation in several different ways and studied the issue of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in every-day products. At the end of the intervention, the students had to take a stand in whether they would buy products containing PFAS, this was done in written form.

The results show that after being taught about argumentation and the context surrounding the SSI, the students mainly based their arguments on content knowledge. This applies for both supporting-, and counter arguments. Value justifications are present in the students’ texts, but they constitute a smaller proportion. The justifications in the argumentative texts contain a great breadth of different subject areas, where chemistry knowledge plays an important role. This study shows that subject knowledge can constitute a substantial part in student argumentation.

The second part of the study will focus on the students experience of working with SSA in chemistry education.
Effective start/end date2015/09/012019/08/01

UKÄ subject classification

  • Didactics


  • Argumentation
  • SSI