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Decisions making and contexts

Students’ Abilities in Decision-Making and the Influence of

Socio-Scientific Contexts and Context-Person-Valences


In the German National Educational Standards (NES) in biology decision making is defined as learners’ ability to identify, discuss and evaluate biological issues in different socio-scientific contexts.  Hence, (specific) contexts build the basis for decision-making processes and thereby set different conditions for these processes. In the project the influence of different contexts and so called context-person-valences on students’ abilities in decision-making are investigated.

The contexts that are relevant for decision-making in biology are defined as a combination of a biological content and a situation with ethical relevance. Four different contexts are distinguished and investigated: medical ethics, sustainability and environment, animal ethics and health. When students involve with socio-scientific contexts, certain context-person-valences (e.g. interestingness, familiarity) arise. These valences are not in a context itself but arise when a person gets into contact with a certain context. Recent studies indicate that contexts or context-person-valences might influence students’ abilities in decision-making.

The aim of the project is to find out which context-person-valences are relevant when students deal with certain contexts and if and in how far students’ abilities of decision-making depend on the respective contexts and the valences.

A task-based test was used to measure students’ abilities in decision-making. A questionnaire was embedded after each task in order to analyze contexts and context-person-valences.