2012. Vol.3, Special Issue, 993-995
Published Online October 2012 in SciRes (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2012.326150
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 993
Science Education at the Polytechnic University of Baja
Maria Amparo Oliveros Ruiz1*, Benjamín Valdez Salas2, Michael Schorr Wienner2,
Lidia Vargas Osuna1, Eduardo Cabrera Cordova1, Ulises Castro Peñaloza1
1Polytechnic University of Baja California, Mexicali, Mexico
2Institute of Engineering, University of Baja California, Mexicali, Mexico
Received August 3rd, 2012; re v i s ed September 5th, 2012; acc e pted September 18th, 2012
The educational model that is currently being implemented with the Polytechnic University of Baja Cali-
fornia (UPBC) students of Engineering in Manufacturing Technology is presented in this paper. This
model gives us the pattern of how to deal with the problem of teaching the nature of science and techno-
logy with quality, in particular, questions about how science and technology validate their knowledge and
how it works in today’s world. The nature of science includes aspects of epistemology and sociology, and
the relationships with science, technology and society (STS): complex and innovative contents in science
education (Acevedo, 2000). Also shown is the result of applying the Opinions Questionnaire on Science,
Technology and Society (OQSTS), which allows an assessment of the views and attitudes of students on
STS issues. Understanding these concepts: Science, Technology and Society is considered by specialists
as a central axis of scientific alphabetization for all and as such, should be incorporated into the curricula
of higher education and especially in Engineering as it enables awareness and changing attitudes of the
student to confront ethical and moral dilemmas.
Keywords: Science Teaching; STS Humanistic Education; Attitudinal Change
The Polytechnic Universities of México were created in 2001
and were designed to offer engineering degrees and postgradu-
ate studies at the level of expertise. Actually, there are 35 Poly-
technic Universities in México. The academic programs at these
universities have three distinctive features: Teaching, Applied
Research and Linkage.
The UPBC is a public institution of the state government; it
started operation in May 2006 with the objective of preparing
professionals with a solid technical background and values,
aware of the national economic, social and cultural context.
Currently it has an enrollment of 800 students and 130 teachers.
The university offers four engineering degrees: Energy, In-
formation Technology, Mechatronics and Manufacturing Tech-
What Is the Nature of Science?
The nature of science is a meta-knowledge about the emerg-
ing science of interdisciplinary reflections made from history,
philosophy and sociology. Including the reflection on methods
to validate the scientific knowledge, the values involved in
science activities, relations with technology and its contribu-
tions to culture and progress of society; it is also known as phi-
losophy of science.
Movement Science, Technology and Society (STS)
On the other hand, the STS movement regards science and
technology as essential core human activities, its importance
lies in the mutual interactions between science, technology and
society (Acevedo, Vazquez, & Manassero, 2003)
As a didactic approach for teaching science and technology;
STS is characterized by highlighting these mutual relations: its
central idea that acts as a guideline for the objectives, contents,
methodology and assessment of this approach. A predominant
instrument for the evaluation of STS is “Views on Science-
Technology-Society-VOSTS” (Aikenhead & Ryan, 1992) that
is adapted to Castilian as COCTS (Cuestionario de opinions en
Ciencia, Tecnologia y Sociedad) (Vazquez & Manasero, 1999).
The Need for New Approaches in Teaching Science
Research in science teaching has identified several difficul-
ties in the process of learning science identified as classics:
they are the structure of the conceptual contents, formal re-
quirement level and the influence of prior knowledge and pre-
conceptions of the student. In recent years a certain shift is
detected in the centers of research interest and is paying in-
creasing attention to factors such as students’ epistemological
conceptions and reasoning strategies or metacognition (Cam-
For this research we use the strategy called “conceptual
change as a starting point of constructivist ideas” (Driver, 1988)
which recommends the following four strategies for construc-
The students’ ideas should be part of the explicit discussion
in the classroom;
The status of the ideas should be discussed and negotiated
The justification of the ideas should be an explicit compo-
nent of the curricula;
M. A. O. RUIZ ET AL.
The debate in the classroom should be aware that metacog-
nition plays a central role in conceptual change.
The concept of metacognition involves the interrelationship
between knowledge, awareness and control of the learning
process, shown graphically in Figure 1.
This study uses a quantitative method; the measurement tool
was applied to students of the UPBC. For this pilot study the
full questionnaire: Opinions Questionnaire on Science, Tech-
nology and Society (OQSTS), which allows an assessment of
the views and attitudes of students on STS issues, was utilized.
But for the purposes of this research, the results of only six
questions will be shown. This questionnaire allows respondents
to express their own point of view on a wide range of STS top-
ics. The tool COCTS was designed by (Vazquez & Manassero,
1999) and employs a Likert psychometric scale for question-
naires and investigations related to social sciences. Nine op-
tions were applied, but in a later analysis it is summarized into
five options. After applying the questionnaires, the answers
were read auto matically using a Cannon DR-3080C scann er with
the support of Remark Office OMR 5.5 package, which led
directly to record survey data in an SPSS (Statistical Package for
the Social Sciences) for statistical processing.
It is a multiple choice model (MCM) where the person who
responds to the matter raised in each issue evaluates on a
nine-point scale, their degree of agreement or disagreement
with each of the sentences given. All have the same format,
beginning with a header from a few lines where there is a prob-
lem for which you want to know the attitude of the respondent,
followed by a list of situations that offers a range of different
explanations on the issue raised and finally, an option not to
answer as “I don’t understand the question”. Although the
methodology is quantitative it allows a qualitative analysis too.
The questionnaire was applied to 60 students in their basic
stage that comprises from the first to the third semester, and 60
students from terminal stage (sixth to eighth semester), repre-
senting a population of 120 students. The instrument will allow
us to detect the true extent of knowledge that students in dif-
ferent degrees have of the STS concepts according to the expert
panel of judges on STS issues (Elfin, Stuart, & Reisch, 1999).
Graphic representation of the concept of Me t acogn ition .
Results and Discussion
Attitudes toward Interactions between Science,
Technology and Society
The analysis of the results is divided in two ways, the influ-
ence of society on science and technology and their influence
On the influence of society towards science and technology,
it is considered that most students recognized that society in-
fluences science and technology, especially when is raised in a
general way. However, when it carries out to diverse contexts
such as government, industrial companies, the army or the sci-
ence and technology education, students show different opin-
10% believe the government should not invest money in re-
search, 80% say that control of the research should be on busi-
nesses. 95% recognized the influence of politics, but does not
accept government control over science to seek greater effi-
ciency. 98% suspect that science and government make deci-
sions without caring the opinions of others
We can see that the general attitude of students is more fa-
vorable to the influence of society on science, in relation to
questions about their knowledge of influence of history, epis-
temology and sociology. Regarding to science and technology
responses is mostly inadequate (Figure 2).
Influence of Science and Technology on Society
Students also recognize that science and technology influ-
ence society even though science is perceived with less inten-
sity than the technology.
85% of students find scientists responsible for any damages
that may occur as a product of their investigations. 60% agreed
on the ability of science and technology to help solve main
social problems affecting the world: poverty, crime, unem-
Data show that most students did not express confidence in
solving everyday problems, as well as 40% of students pro-
nounce in doubt on the role of science and technology, to bene-
fit the quality of life of society (Figure 3).
Influence of society on science and technology .
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
M. A. O. RUIZ ET AL.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 995
Influence of science and technology on societ y.
It was also observed that the surveyed students have not re-
ceived an education in specific or general STS concepts to en-
able them to understand such relationship, nor to understand the
nature of science in particular, because the university curricula
and below grades did not consider it enough. Therefore, their
beliefs and attitudes are not configured for a formal school
curriculum to address these issues directly and explicitly. Con-
sequently, education rests on a hidden school curriculum, im-
plicit and unplanned with teacher beliefs implicitly transmitted
in different classroom activities and laboratory, textbooks and
other curricula materials, and especially informal education:
information media, social programs, magazines, movies, mu-
seums and exhibitions of science and technology (Garritz,
Porro, Rembado, & Trinidad, 2007).
The purpose of science teaching with STS focus, in addition
to preparing UPBC students to become professionals with sci-
entific knowledge, also helps them understand better how sci-
ence and technology works in the world today.
Given the axiological nature impregnated with attitudinal
contents and values of education, STS is seeks the adherence of
the students towards a particular position. It presents different
perspectives, encouraging the students to invest greater efforts
to acquire the knowledge’s and the tools for their integration in
the modern society, so they can play a predominant position for
the public and personal benefit. In this mode they will reach a
better understanding to evaluate critically the actual interactions
between academic, industry and government. This knowledge
will facilitate the understanding of the global world in which
the students will improve their professional development (Aiken-
It is useful for teachers to have a formation in STS concepts
in order to achieve scientific and technological alphabetization
of the citizenry. Programs are also required to address directly
and explicitly the STS contents and to allow an effective reflec-
tion of teaching staff on these issues. (Aikenhead & Rayan,
1992). Therefore, we must always include a plurality of authors
or approaches with a depth and extension consistent with the
abilities and developmental level of students.
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