Defining and describing students’ socioscientific issues tradeoffs practices

P. Citlally Jimenez, Adam Zwickle, Jenny M. Dauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Decision making about complex socioscientific issues (SSI) involves recognizing and weighing tradeoffs among conflicting values and stakeholder outcomes. A vital but difficult practice, engaging in tradeoffs allows decision-makers to engage in perspective-taking, and also identify that not all their desired goals may be fulfilled by a policy. However, the science education field has not clearly defined tradeoffs practices or operationalized instruction about tradeoffs. Our primary goal was to define features of a tradeoff practice supported by a literature review and explore undergraduates’ tradeoff practices within an interdisciplinary science literacy course focused on SSI decision making. As a result of our analysis, we propose three important features of tradeoff reasoning: internal consistency, multiple perspectives, and alternatives comparison strategies, which represent a broader understanding of specific goals students can achieve and educators can assess. Our work more holistically defines student tradeoff practices across the entire decision-making process and lays a theoretical foundation for researching students’ tradeoffs practices in an SSI-context. Our study may aid educators in identifying how students consider tradeoffs when decision making about complex SSI and recognizing challenges to refine educational programming aimed at enhancing students’ decision-making skills to support science literacy.


  • Tradeoffs
  • decision making
  • science literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Communication


Dive into the research topics of 'Defining and describing students’ socioscientific issues tradeoffs practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this