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Describing Undergraduates’ Decision-Making Practices in a Socioscientific-Issue Classroom Context

P. Citlally Jimenez, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Integrating decision-making learning goals within science classrooms has been increasingly common for science educators and researchers to help develop students’ science literacy skills. These learning goals include understanding and applying scientific information as well as recognizing tradeoffs amongst multiple perspectives when decision-making about real-world issues like socioscientific issues (SSIs). SSIs are contentious issues that require students to consider interdisciplinary evidence to explain the natural world, including the social and economic impacts of a solution to the issue. Incorporating structured decision-making (SDM) tools may help students make science-informed and value-based decisions about SSIs by breaking down the complexity of the decision-making process. In general, this study implemented qualitative and quantitative approaches to explore undergraduates’ decision-making practices as they worked through an SDM tool to reason about socioscientific issues within a science literacy classroom. This work presents frameworks that describe how students use scientific evidence and engage with tradeoffs when using an SDM tool in the context of a post-secondary required course called Science and Decision-making for a Complex World. Additionally, this study describes the development and evaluation of an instrument (Pollination Systems Knowledge Assessment) aimed at measuring students’ content knowledge of one SSI (how should we manage wild pollinators?). Our results may aid researchers in exploring how students integrate evidence in their reasoning and consider tradeoffs during structured decision-making about complex issues, as well as assess students’ understanding of pollination systems knowledge.

Subject Area

Science education

Recommended Citation

Jimenez, P. Citlally, "Describing Undergraduates’ Decision-Making Practices in a Socioscientific-Issue Classroom Context" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28490343.