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Exploratory Study on Latvian Secondary School Teachers’ Understanding of the Concept of Scientific Literacy

Agnese Davidsone, Vineta Silkane
Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Latvia

Abstract. Teachers’ scientific knowledge and understanding of science are prominent in determining how teaching scientific literacy will be integrated in the curriculum. However, in previous literature in-service teachers’ understanding of scientific literacy has not been studied sufficiently. This qualitative study aims to close this gap and explore how Latvian secondary school teachers (N = 23) understand the concept of scientific literacy. In our study, we distinguished three dimensions of scientific literacy: procedural, affective, and conceptual. Our results indicate that teachers associate scientific literacy mainly with the aspects related to procedural dimension: having knowledge about conducting a scientific study, applying scientific methods, and having an understanding about scientific concepts and processes. Teachers do not perceive themselves as highly scientifically literate for a variety of reasons. For the teachers interviewed, features of scientific literacy overlap with media and information literacy and critical thinking. We conclude that the teachers’ understanding only partly covers the depth and breadth of the concept of scientific literacy, and differs depending on teachers’ previous education and school subject thought. The importance of teachers’ (further) education in developing their understanding of the concept of scientific literacy is discussed.

Keywords: scientific literacy, media literacy, critical thinking, scientifically literate person, secondary school teachers

About the authors

Agnese Dāvidsone, PhD, is an associate professor and lead researcher in media and communication studies at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Latvia. She is the co-author of several publications and book chapters on pedagogical agency, scientific literacy, media and information literacy.

Vineta Silkāne, Dr. psych., is an associate professor at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences. She is the author and co-author of several publications on health behaviour, health procrastination, health literacy, scientific literacy, media literacy and civic participation. 

To Be or Not to Be a Great Educator, 2022. Proceedings of ATEE Annual Conference
Riga: University of Latvia Press, 2023. 985 p.
EdL. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-36-019-0