Teaching astrobiology from a socio-scientific perspective using a digital learning environment

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


We report from the European project CoReflect (www.coreflect.org) where groups in Cyprus, England, Germany, Greece, Israel, Sweden and the Netherlands are developing, implementing and evaluating teaching sequences using the internet platform Stochasmos (Kyza & Constantinou, 2007). Within this design-based project (Barab & Squire, 2004) teach­ers and researchers work together on the design of digi­tal learning environ­ments (LE:s). The approach seeks to bridge the worlds of academia and the world of educational practice. All LE:s build on dif­ferent socio-scientific issues (Sadler, 2004), and Stochasmos are used to help teachers scaf­fold students in collaborative learning.

The local working groups of researchers and teachers design one LE each. The design goes through different phases: implementation, review and refinement. The aim of this article is to describe these phases, for the Swedish LE. The Swedish group chose socio-scientific issues in the content area of Astrobiology. Astrobiology captures questions that have been found to be of interest to students (Sjøberg & Schreiner, 2006). The socio-scientific driving questions are:

Should we look for, and try to contact, extraterrestrial life?

Should we transform Mars into a planet where humans can live in the future?

Students are expected to: a) demonstrate a basic understanding of essential concepts of astrobiology, b) discuss the nature of science, c) link hands-on lab-work to astrobiology research, d) provide evidence-based answers to the driving questions, using scientific, social, economical and ethical perspectives.

Based on the evaluation of the pilot enactment several changes were made in Stochasmos and to the teachers’ guide. Even though Stochasmos gives the work structure, through tabs and templates the need for a scaffolding teacher was obvious. The teacher needs to be familiar and knowledgeable about the content in order to be able to produce challenging questions. A stricter planning for the teacher, with explicit instruction about student activities was introduced to promote science oriented discussions. The students liked working with the computer – it is a familiar environment. The teacher experienced an increase in student anticipation and focus. The analysis of the second enactment is ongoing, and will be presented at the conference.

Barab, S., & Squire, K. (2004). Design-based research: Putting a stake in the ground. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 1-14.

Kyza, E. A. & Constantinou, C. P. (2007). Stochasmos: A web-based platform for reflective, in-quiry-based teaching and learning. Cyprus: Learning in Science Group.

Redfors, A., Hansson, L. & Rosberg, M. (2009). Socio-Scientific Collaborative Inquiry in astro-biology – The Design and Implementation of a digital learning environment. Esera 2009.

Sadler, T. D. (2004). Informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues: a critical review of re-search. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(5), 513-536.

Sjøberg, S., & Schreiner, C. (2006). How do learners in different cultures relate to science and technology? Results and perspectives from the project rose (the relevance of science education). Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 6(2), 1-17.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventGIREP-ICPE-MPTL Conference 2010, Reims, France, August 22-27. -
Duration: 1980-Jan-01 → …


ConferenceGIREP-ICPE-MPTL Conference 2010, Reims, France, August 22-27.
Period80-01-01 → …

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Didactics (50302)


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