Teacher Perspectives on Complex Competences: Challenges for Socioscientific Teaching

Sofie Tidemand, Jan Alexis Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalAbstractResearchpeer-review


It has become paradigmatic for educational systems to shift the aim of science teaching from developing student knowledge to a more functional aim of developing students’ competences – the abilities to solve complex problems by drawing on knowledge, values, skills, and attitudes that together make effective action possible. Clearly, teaching activities that engage students in discussing and making decisions on socioscientific issues (SSI) seem ideal for activating and developing students’ science related competences. But over nearly two decades, the SSI-literature has documented a range of challenges that science teachers face when implementing SSIs – e.g. that teachers find it difficult to properly assess and react to student performance in SSI teaching. In this presentation, we argue that a fundamental challenge for competence-oriented teaching, in general, and SSI-teaching, in particular, concerns the extent to which competences are being made operational for science teaching. A complex competence – such as the competence to engage in SSI discussions in particular disciplinary contexts – to some extent needs to be deconstructed into smaller constructs in order for e.g. informing the teacher about how to assess students’ performance. Based on group-interviews with Danish science teachers and responses to an open-ended questionnaire, we argue that complex competences are difficult for teachers to make operational for their teaching, and that this fundamental difficulty is challenge for the implementation for competence-oriented teaching, in general, and SSI-teaching, in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventESERA - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017
Conference number: 17




  • learning, educational science and teaching
  • teachers

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