Science Education Seminar Series (SENSE): Examining tensions in the socioscientific issues classroom

The SENSE seminar series aims to make sense of current issues and challenges in science teaching and learning. Guest lecturer in this seminar is Professor Hyunok Lee (Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, South Korea).

Boy on a forrest trail looking into binoculars.

Learning in an socioscientific issues (SSI) classroom requires students to make additional efforts to navigate between the subcultures of science successfully (photo illustration by Coourbox).

Welcome to the Science Education Seminar Series! This event is part of the master course NATDID4002 Naturfagene, forskning og samfunn. The seminar is open for all.  To register, please fill out the registration form (

About the seminar

Speaker: Professor Hyunok Lee (Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, South Korea).


In the socioscientific issues (SSI) classroom, students need to cross the border between the subcultures of science (i.e., school science vs. everyday science). Traditional school contexts tend to present science as positivistic knowledge and unshakable truth unaffected by sociocultural factors. In contrast, including SSI, everyday science is more nuanced, context-based, socially, and culturally embedded. Thus, learning in an SSI classroom requires students to make additional efforts to navigate between the subcultures of science successfully. The expected norms located within these two educational contexts can create academic and sociocultural tensions for students. Therefore, it is necessary to explore the tensions that caused these differential norms to implement SSI successfully.

Through the lens of cultural-historical activity theory, we attempted to identify possible tensions that originate by implementing SSI instruction in a setting where teachers and students are accustomed to traditional lecture-based classroom instruction. One hundred thirty ninth graders at a public middle school in Seoul, South Korea, participated in SSI programs on genetic modification technology during seven class periods over three to 4 weeks. Data was collected by classroom observation, audiotaping while students participated in various types of discourse and semi structured interviews. We identified four noteworthy phenomena, including intolerance of uncertainty, scientism, a sense of rivalry, and reaching an expedient and easy consensus. By revealing and understanding these tensions and phenomena, we aim to help inform teachers (and teacher educators) recognize instructional clues that can change students' epistemological views and attitudes toward science and science classes and better navigate the norms of classroom culture.

About the speaker

Hyunok Lee is a Professor in the Division of Liberal Studies at Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, South Korea. She received a B.S. from the Department of Physics, Sogang University in 2000, an M.S. from the Program in History and Philosophy of Science, Seoul National University in 2004, and a PhD from the Department of Science Education, Ewha Womans University in 2015. From 2006 to 2009, Hyunok worked as a junior curator at the National Science Museum and Gwacheon National Science Museum. From 2018 to 2021, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Educational Research, Seoul National University.

Her research interests lie in the areas of Socioscientific issues, Nature of Science, Nature of Technology, and Future Studies. She has collaborated actively with researchers in related disciplines such as Philosophy of Science and Technology, History of Science and Technology, and recently Future Studies.


Nani Teig, postdoctoral researcher and course coordinator of NATDID4002 Naturfagene, forskning og samfunn.

Published Sep. 10, 2021 8:17 AM - Last modified Sep. 10, 2021 8:17 AM