Development of Socially and Ethically Articulate Science Identities in a Broader Impacts of Science Course
Students in the geosciences and other sciences may have few opportunities in their academic curriculum to think systematically about the individual and social values that influence their disciplinary pursuits. This kind of ethical, values-based reasoning about scientific work can be critically important to the development of their holistic scientific identities, disciplinary persistence, and broader impacts through scientific practice. With an eye towards better supporting deep student identity work, we present findings from three years of design-based research on a course on the broader impacts of science.
Structured per the Curiosity to Question model for course-based research experiences (CBREs) shared in a 2021 EER workshop, this work further develops and applies the approach for learning and inquiry into social and ethical questions. The course engages students from multiple STEM disciplines in a semester-long process of (1) building classroom community for critical questioning, (2) individual empirical ethical inquiry and (3) collaborative design of broader impacts interventions. The high-level design conjecture for the course is that that by engaging students in a systematic (re)examination of what counts as good science and who counts as a scientist, they will develop more complex socially and ethically articulate scientific identities.
Post-course surveys show positive student reactions to the course, that they view it as a novel opportunity to think about science and scientists in helpful ways, and that they gain confidence in their ability to explain what they do as student-scientists and why they do it. Surveys also indicate a positive impact on the degree to which students identify as scientists. By analyzing forum discussions, Zoom-based discussions, drafts of empirical ethical investigations and intervention designs, we reveal some of the values-based reasoning and affective work undertaken by students in forming socially and ethically articulate scientific identities. Conceptual and design considerations are highlighted for further work.