Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Research Student: Vasudha Malhotra

Photo of Vasudha Malhotra

Teachers’ perspectives on teaching of Socioscientific Issues (SSIs) in Indian Science Classrooms

Submission Date: September 2015

The primary focus of my PhD research is in the teaching of Socio-Scientific Issues (SSIs). SSIs (e.g., global warming, genetic manipulation) are the controversial issues that emerge from the nexus of science and society (Sadler, 2004). Teaching of SSIs has been increasingly considered as a pedagogic resource for fostering scientific literacy, and student’s ability to make informed decisions based on evaluation of scientific data. As important as it is, the teaching of SSIs is complex and poses a range of challenges for science teachers such as, dealing with the dilemmas connected to SSIs and incomplete and contradicting information and evidences (Ratcliffe et. al, 2003). Specifically, my research aims at investigating the pedagogical approaches that teachers utilize and intermittently develop to teach SSIs, and factors that influence the teaching of SSIs. Additionally, my research study explores the teachers’ beliefs and positions towards SSIs, moral aspects of SSIs and their importance in society.

In order to address the research questions framing this study, 14 science teachers from 5 different schools in India have been interviewed and observed. The findings of this study would provide insights into teachers’ perspectives towards SSIs and the way their perspectives affect the teaching of SSIs. Furthermore, the findings in this study would provide empirical evidence to support the currently perceived factors influencing the teaching of SSIs and would delineate certain tacit influencing factors.


Prior to joining University of Leeds as a PhD candidate, I worked as a part-time freelance teacher for 12 years, while furthering my studies.  Initially I completed a Bachelors and a Masters in Chemistry, and later realized my actual passion in teaching and to see a logical, liberal and rational world. Hence, I did my second Bachelors and Masters in the field of Education to qualify myself more worthy of a contributions towards my passion than what I was already doing being a freelance teacher.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

In addition to the many valuable skills, such as independence, responsibility one develops during a PhD, my PhD gives you a much deeper insight into my field of research and an opportunity to closely observe the functioning of Indian science education system. This also is an opportunity to hone my qualitative analysis skills that I can use later to build a successful career upon. I believe a PhD from Leeds University in science education would also add enough credibility to my profile to propose required changes in the Indian science education system.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

I have worked as a teacher for a very long time and understand the dilemmas one goes through while teaching topics, such as SSIs with no correct or straightforward answers. The very controversial nature of SSIs intrigues me to discern the various factors surrounding the teaching of SSIs in schools. By pursuing the research in this field, I get to observe various patterns and teaching methods that work for teaching SSIs in a particular context.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

I envision myself assuming a role in Indian education system where I can influence the current curriculum in a way to produce better-informed citizens using the knowledge and skills gained from my PhD. Alternatively, I would like to take up a possible opportunity in academia or outside to implement and further enhance my qualitative analysis skills.

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