I interviewed a group of four sixteen-year old secondary school students about their attitudes towards modern biotechnology. When I asked them what they knew about this subject, one girl responded: “Well, I know it’s about genes, they are located in your DNA, and within your genes is all the information for your body …or something like that.” Her fellow student immediately reacted: “It’s about genetic manipulation; they can change something without you knowing about it.” One of the two boys in the group could not care less and just said: “It’s boring! It is something for smart people, not for me.” When I asked them about their feelings towards it, the first girl said: “I find it very interesting and fascinating, that they can do stuff like that.” The other girl was not that convinced, and replied: “I think it’s like playing God, manipulating everything can not be good.” While the other boy in the group had not made up his mind: “I really don’t know what to think about it now, no one in my family is sick or anything, so for now it does not concern me.” Four students with four different ways of looking at and responding to modern biotechnology; one of the girls in the group was very aware and interested, while the other girl was reluctant. One boy did not really care, while the other boy was not sure what to think of it. They all differed in their knowledge, feelings and beliefs, but they all had some kind of attitude towards modern biotechnology. In this dissertation, two issues with regard to the interaction of modern biotechnology and secondary school students will be investigated. The first issue concerns the question what young people currently know about modern biotechnology, and what their underlying views and opinions are. In other words, what are the attitudes towards modern biotechnology of secondary school students? This introduction will present a description of modern biotechnology (genomics), followed by the concept of attitudes, and attitudes towards modern biotechnology. Students’ attitudes towards modern biotechnology constitute the building blocks of this thesis. The second issue examines the way science education may help students not only to develop their levels of knowledge, but also to invite students to reflect upon modern biotechnology and develop their attitudes to more profound levels. The need for scientific literacy and the role of science education herein is highlighted.

, , , , , ,
The Dutch Research Organisation (NWO)
G.T.M. ten Dam , H.G. Schmidt (Henk)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Psychology

Klop, T. (2008, November 14). Attitudes of Secondary School Students towards Modern Biotechnology. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/13857