Re-conceptualization of scientific literacy in South Korea for the 21st century

Kyunghee Choi, Hyunju Lee, Namsoo Shin, Sung Won Kim, Joseph Krajcik

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113 Scopus citations


As the context of human life expands from personal to global, a new vision of scientific literacy is needed. Based on a synthesis of the literature and the findings of an online survey of South Korean and US secondary science teachers, we developed a framework for scientific literacy for South Korea that includes five dimensions: content knowledge, habits of mind, character and values, science as a human endeavor, and metacognition, and self-direction. The framework was validated by international science educators. Although the names of these dimensions sound familiar, the framework puts a new perspective on scientific literacy by expanding and refining each dimension, stressing integrated understanding of big idea and the importance of character and values, adding metacognition, and emphasizing global citizenship. Twenty-first century citizens need integrated understanding of the big ideas of science and habits of mind such as systematic thinking and communications. They also need to realize that science is a human endeavor that changes, as new evidence is uncovered. However, these aspects of scientific literacy provide only a partial picture. Scientific literacy should also emphasize character and values that can lead learners to make appropriate choices and decisions to ensure a sustainable planet and provide all people with basic human rights. Individuals will also need to develop metacognitive skills in order interpret new complex scientific information and know when they need additional information. Although this framework was developed primarily for South Korea, a new vision of scientific literacy that is applicable for K-12 has the potential to spur the development of new standards, curriculum materials, instructional practices, professional development and assessments, and dialog across nations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-697
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • global citizenship
  • global scientific literacy
  • globalization
  • scientific literacy


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