The study explores secondary students’ decision making about socio-scientific issues (SSIs) related to biological conservation, from cross-cultural, cross-age and cross-gender perspectives. It has been widely recognized that many SSIs have profound repercussions on global environmental sustainability that transcend cultural boundaries. Research on SSIs has been focused on multi-perspective reasoning, the evaluation of evidence, value judgement, and the formulation of the criteria for decision-making, but not on the possible roles of culture, gender, and age-related developmental factors as mediators of students’ decision making. This study was to fill this gap. It adopted a comparative perspective and used mixed methods including student worksheets, class discussion records and focus groups. A total of 97 HK students, with 55 aged 11-13 and 42 aged 15-17, and 54 UK students, with 41 aged 11-13 and 13 aged 15-17 were involved in decision making about shark hunting within their own classes, and in cross-cultural exchange between HK and UK classes. The aim was to study gender, cultural and age-related differences in students’ decision-making about shark hunting, and the impact of cultural exchanges through watching videotaped presentations from another locality. Preliminary findings showed that while nearly all the students in both localities agreed to protect sharks to different extents, there were differences across age, gender and culture in various aspects of their decisions including their justifications. For instance, there was statistically significant difference in the number of concerns on which the justifications of HK and UK junior students were based upon; UK senior students targeted at a wider range of stakeholders in their final decisions than their HK counterparts; and far more senior students in both localities resorted to education as a means to protect sharks than their junior counterparts. More junior students in both localities thought they needed further information for making decision about the issue than their senior counterparts. Gender differences were not obvious for both localities. The impact of cultural exchange seemed to be more prominent for UK than HK students in this particular SSI. (This project was funded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council under the General Research Fund Scheme for 2016-17.) Copyright © 2017 The Education University of Hong Kong.
|Publication status||Published - Nov 2017|