On the evening of June 29, 2022, from 19:00 to 20:30, the Beijing Normal University SSI Learning Project Team held a webinar via Tencent Rooms, themed “Developing Students’ Scientific Attitude and Responsibility in SSI Learning”. Chen Chunxiang, a key member of the SSI-L project of Beijing Bayi School, shared the school’s case. Professor Ding Bangping, director of the Research Center of Science Education of Capital Normal University, Peng Menghua, a Speical-Rank Teacher of the Second Affiliated Middle School of Beijing Normal University, Song Shiyun, director of the Curriculum Center of Haidian Institute of Education Sciences, and Lin Jing, head of the SSI-L Project Team from Beijing Normal University, attended the meeting and offered comments.
Chen Chunxiang illustrated the relationship between SSI-L courses and the disciplinary core literacy. By sharing the design and implementation process of the issue “Which is better to purchase — petrol-powered vehicles or electric ones?” she proposed to do the following points to develop students’ scientific attitude and responsibility in SSI learning. The first is to carefully select an issue and create a dilemma. The issue selected should fit into a real social situation, be close to the students’ life, cover core knowledge, and point to the cultivation of core literacy. The second is to pinpoint the propositions for discussion. Teachers should pay attention to the change of roles, take students as the main actors, adopt a variety of teaching strategies, and allow students to become the protagonists to think critically and solve problems. The third is to find out and balance the pros and cons, and encourage students to discuss and make decisions through cloud debate competitions.
Song Shiyun first pointed out that SSI Learning has provided a vivid, effective and distinctive learning platform for students. The design purpose of the SSI-L activities of Beijing Bayi School is to use disciplinary theoretical knowledge to solve practical problems in daily life, thus creating a specific, subtle and unnoticeably conducive moral education approach and laying seeds of ideals, beliefs and self-confidence education for students. Song suggested that the SSI-L project team should be established to support diverse reform of general high schools and the construction of characteristic schools. Secondly, it is necessary to grasp the disciplinary core literacy to implement the education of scientific attitude and social responsibility. Teachers should create learning scenarios and opportunities for students, which cannot rely on teachers’ lecturing, but rather be formed and constructed by students themselves independently. Furthermore, SSI learning provides a “starting small and thinking big picture” sort of value, world view, and view of life, for implementing the fundamental educational task of fostering integrity and promoting rounded development of people. The goal of general high school training is to cultivate new-era talents with ideals, abilities, and responsibilities, which can be interpreted as those with ideals and beliefs, social responsibility, scientific and cultural literacy, lifelong learning ability, independent development ability, as well as communication and cooperation ability. The case shared considers broad knowledge with one specific topic such as what kind of car to buy, which reflects the value leading role of this case.
Peng Menghua affirmed the effectiveness of the school’s project in improving students’ quality. He believed that in respect of issue selection, students might not feel much related to the topic of electric vehicles and petrol-powered ones, and thus find it difficult to truly experience and deeply understand the issue. In terms of disciplinary knowledge, the issue involves subjects learning such as physics, chemistry, biology, politics, and others. Teachers should consider whether the SSI learning activities have delved into each subject and pay attention to the comprehensive application of all subjects. It is dangerous to disassemble batteries. Students cannot learn about lithium batteries by disassembling carbon batteries or galvanic ones. Therefore, it is not suitable for teachers to ask students to do too much on information search, summary, and debate. They should also offer more opportunities to students for hands-on practice and practical inquiry. The production of electric vehicle motors is more environmentally friendly than that of lithium batteries. But compared with petrol-powered vehicles, electric ones have the disadvantages of possible explosion, long charging time, and high energy consumption for heating in winter. In fact, both petrol-powered vehicles and electric ones are worth purchasing. It doesn’t have to be an either-or matter. In regard with the implementation process of this case, Peng also gave suggestions for improving certain specific details. For instance, since both petrol-powered vehicles and electric ones are worth purchasing, to choose between them is not a dilemma. Teachers should think about the rationality of the “dilemma”. They should also consider whether it is appropriate to classify expressions like “national level” and “personal level” in discussion as “discussing about roles”. They should take into account whether the activity of comparing the number of gas stations and electric vehicle charging stations makes sense. They should ensure the accuracy of such claims as “effective efficiency”, “thermal power is cheaper”, “electric vehicles are more economical”.
Ding Bangping commented on the case from the perspective of science education. First of all, he pointed out that teachers should not only take SSI-L as a teaching strategy, but also pay attention to the teaching philosophy behind it. Secondly, regarding the development of scientific attitude and responsibility in SSI-L, this case could focus on cultivating students’ rational attitude towards science and technology. Experiment is not the key focus of SSI learning activities. Improving students’ scientific literacy and developing their critical thinking ability through SSI-L is conducive to cultivating their interest in science and their understanding of the nature of science. Scientific attitude includes not only qualities of truth-seeking and being practical that science has in itself, but also students’ attitude towards science. Developing students’ responsibility is closely related to cultivating their attitude. Students demonstrating their scientific attitude also represents that they have responsibility. Furthermore, teachers should specifically decompose the goals of scientific attitude and responsibility that this case can carry out, translate teachers’ teaching goals into students’ learning goals, and clearly inform students of such goals to encourage them to self-examine. Teachers should pay attention to details when evaluating students, and also keep an eye on collecting evidence in students’ debate and learning process so as to determine whether the teaching objectives are achieved. Finally, Professor Ding Bangping affirmed the significance of the SSI-L project in promoting the evolvement of the teaching and learning methods to developing students’ scientific literacy, and suggested that teachers reflect more on their own exploration and practice in SSI-L.
Lin Jing expressed gratitude to the expert team for their comments and guidance. She first pointed out that in the teaching of this case, teachers could focus on the goals of scientific attitude and responsibility, then further think about, design and evaluate what specific goals could be implemented through which activities of each discipline. For example, what details could educate students about ethics and morality, what could help students understand the nature of science, what could improve students’ critical thinking skills, so and so forth. Teachers can further clarify the goals of scientific attitude and responsibility, such as developing students’ curiosity about certain phenomena and enthusiasm for inquiry. Within this issue, the focus should be on encouraging students to think about the relationship between science, technology, society, and the environment, and then develop their own judgments. Secondly, in this case, the cooperation between teachers of various disciplines looks more like a platter of disciplines, which is feasible in the early stage of this project. It is recommended that teachers of various disciplines make further efforts to communicate and discuss, and design cross-disciplinary integrative teaching content and activities. Meanwhile, Lin Jing reminded that teachers should not assign SSI learning onto students as an open research task, and “flip over” students’ role into program designers and data investigators. Giving too many tasks to students would take them a great amount of time, making it difficult for them to raise in-depth research questions, and thus reducing students’ learning benefits. Teachers should undertake the designing task and provide students with more scaffolding to enter the learning process of higher-rank idea collision and experiencing emotional attitudes and values. In the end, Lin Jing also echoed Ding Bangping’s suggestions, and once again called on teachers to step out of their comfort zone, dare to reflect on and question their own teaching design and teaching implementation, and use the SSI-L project research to continuously improve their teaching level and ability that is literacy oriented and points towards the development of students’ core literacy.