A multiple case study of teachers’ roles in bioethics discourses

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


There is a research interest in science education investigating teachers’ proper roles in teaching about controversially socio-scientific issues-based (SSI). In response to this, this study explored teachers’ roles in discussing the issues of bioethics in the classroom using a multiple case study. Four teachers and their students from four high schools in Hangzhou, Mainland China participated in this study. Data collection methods used included lesson observations and pre- and post- individual interviews. Through content analysis, results indicated that the four teachers adopted multiple roles in bioethical discourse to serve different instructional purposes. ‘(committed) instructor’ was the role that was more commonly adopted to address the purposes such as stating tasks, explaining key concepts, or making summaries. The second was ‘neutral facilitator’ to encourage students’ talking, listening, or giving justifications during discussions. However, the teachers appeared encounter difficulties in facilitating higher order argumentation process of students (e.g. reflection or evaluation). Occasionally, the teachers also acted the roles of ‘devil’s advocate’, ‘participant’ to challenge students’ ideas or ‘observer’ when students were able to continue discussions by themselves. Furthermore, results suggested that what roles the teachers performed depended on their views on personal roles, the role of the students, as well as the complexities of the issues to large extent. The implications of this study for supporting teachers to organize more effective SSI-based moral discussions are discussed. Copyright © 2017 The Education University of Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


Chen, Y., & So, W. M. W. (2017, November). A multiple case study of teachers’ roles in bioethics discourses. Paper presented at the WERA Focal Meeting & HKERA International Conference 2017 (WERA-HKERA 2017): Innovation, Reform and Education Change in a Contemporary World, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


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