Conceptions and perceptions of students regarding the reliability of news and Fake News

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

SANTOS, Ygor Bernardes [1], SILVA, Ian Baruc Costa e [2], GONÇALVES, Eduardo Pontello Hass [3]

SANTOS, Ygor Bernardes. SILVA, Ian Baruc Costa e. GONÇALVES, Eduardo Pontello Hass. Conceptions and perceptions of students regarding the reliability of news and Fake News. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 09, Vol. 07, pp. 120-140. September 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link: https://www.nucleodoconhecimento.com.br/education/reliability-of-news

ABSTRACT

This work was done in order to analyze the conceptions of Science, Technology and Society that students of a state school in Belo Horizonte evoke when analyzing the reliability of news. For this, we used a teaching sequence elaborated by students of the Physical Pibid of UFMG based on a STS curriculum, which had its culmination in a simulated jury. The sequence was made from the following scientific socio-scientific question: “a telephone company intends to install an antenna in the vicinity of the school”. From this, the students, guided by both the physics teacher and the Pibid students, investigated the concepts of radiation and its effects on the environment. We analyze the responses given to one of the activities done during this investigation.

Keywords: STS, fake News, physics teaching, socio scientific issues, radiation.

INTRODUCTION

Rumors are a very old phenomenon. However, recently, with the emergence of the Internet, they have again gained the attention of researchers such as Müller and Souza (2018). When the communication process was only through spoken language, orality allowed modifications that propagated in different ways in different times and contexts. We observed that human communication has a problem that seems to be inherent to it, which is the difficulty of ensuring the reliability of the information transmitted. Today, with the advent of the Internet, access to information has become more dynamic, as have the issues that imply the veracity of the information transmitted. According to Antunes, Sanches, and Lopes (2019) some problems with lies on the Internet highlight and make network navigation a great task, because it is possible to find a huge amount of false truths, misinformation and misleading information, in their article, the authors discuss about educational interventions that try to change this reality, trying in a way to form users aware of the information.

The relevance of fallacies today can be seen by discussions on “Fake News” that gained traction after Brexit[4] and the 2016 US elections.Many scientific studies have proposed to understand and analyze the phenomenon (GELFERT, 2018), the context in which fake news take place (MARSHALL, 2017), its impacts (ALLCOTT and GENTZKOW, 2017), in addition to its relevance (JANKOWSKI, 2018).

In Brazil, the term Fake News became more popular during the 2018 presidential elections. The relevance of the theme and the discussion here is observed through some efforts by the Brazilian State to deal with the situation. Examples of these efforts are the installation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry (CPMI); encouraging and disseminating academic papers such as “Post-truth, fake news and electoral process.” (GREBE; MERGULHÃO JUNIOR; ALBUQUERQUE, 2018) by the magazine of the Regional Electoral Court of Pernambuco and the website of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE).

Other theoretical evidence points to issues that give relevance to fake news for us teachers and researchers of education. Müller and Souza (2018) bring in their reference authors who discuss about fake news, such as Chen; Conroy and Rubin (2015) note that the ability to critically judge and evaluate the quality of information is a fundamental skill, but that it is lacking in a large segment of the population. Or also El Rayess et al. (2018), they conclude when doing a survey with students at Notre Dame-Louaize University (NDU) in Lebanon that students do not usually evaluate and verify the veracity of information and observe that by not paying attention to the veracity of information they can become easy targets of fake news, associating the fact overconfidence in their assessment skills.

More objectively Müller and Souza (2018), talk about the importance of teaching, according to them, according to them, young people should need more support to extend capacities to make a critical judgment of the sources of information. Thus, according to the authors, information literacy should help young people increase their skills to judge information and its sources.

These references mentioned above are the role of being responsible for the direct and indirect confrontation of “Fake News”. In view of this, one question raised was: Can science teaching help in coping with tribulations such as “Fake News”?

Since Post-Truth is a phenomenon that does not only touch on electoral political spheres but in all the social contexts that we are immersed in, it is natural to see that, also in science, “False Information” will be present. Thus, as responsible for the dissemination of scientific knowledge, through pedagogical proposals, we seek to find ways to evaluate the Fake News related to science and possible tools to combat them. We present this paper as a proposal to answer the following research questions: What conceptions of science, technology and society do students evoke in their constructs of arguments when analyzing news? How are these arguments evoked by students able to combat or minimize the impacts of fake news on society?

We intend to answer these questions by analyzing a teaching sequence elaborated by students of the Institutional Program of Teaching Initiation Scholarships (PIBID) of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), which was applied to students from two classes of the third year of high school of a state school in Belo Horizonte, in the pampulha region, in the night shift. We base the sequence on a Science, Technology and Society (STS) approach that, according to Santos and Mortimer (2002) citing López and Cerezo (1996), corresponds to an integration between scientific, technological and social education, where scientific and technological content permeates a discussion between historical, ethical, socioeconomic and political aspects.

The sequence was made with physics and biology teachers, along with five Pibid students, during a two-month period of 2019. Its culmination was a simulated jury made with the two classes, each with forty students, where the consequences of the installation of a telephone antenna in the vicinity of the school were discussed.

This sequence consisted of ten classes presented briefly in table 1, which can be seen below. The first column of the table shows the lesson number. The second column briefly describes the activities performed in the respective classes and the third column is composed of the survey of the dimensions of Science, Technology and Society on which the classes were based, based on the theoretical references adopted. For practicality, we grouped the sixth and seventh classes because they were constituted of the same activity, which required more time.

Table 1: Summary of classes.

Class Summary of activities Predominant STS aspect
1 Presentation of videos found on the Internet, involving radiation, discussion with students about their previous concepts of radiation. Raising doubts about radiation. Systematization of concepts about electromagnetic waves. Scientific and technological.
2 Division of the class into two groups. One group went to the computer room to research the doubts presented in the previous class, the other group discussed in the classroom, using common sense and the concepts discussed earlier. Scientific and social.
3 Distribution of an activity developed by the Center for Science and Mathematics Teaching of Minas Gerais (Cecimig), which discussed the impacts of radiation on health, presenting several excerpts from people who talked about how radiation affected their lives, as well as results of scientific research.Discussion on the reliability of news in various media. Scientific, technological and social.
4 Discussion about the activity of the third class, with socialization of the answers given by the students. Scientific, technological and social.
5 Division of groups, one in favor of installing a cell phone antenna in the vicinity of the school and the other against the installation, for the simulated jury. Explanation of the theme and the functioning of a jury. Scientific and social.
6 and 7 Preparation of the groups for the jury, with each group in a separate room, looking for a smaller number of interference in the speeches between the groups. Scientific, technological and social.
8 Presentation of the mock jury. Scientific, technological and social.
9 and 10 Discussion about the results and the argumentative processes that took place during the jury. Scientific, technological and social.

Source: author.

DEVELOPMENT

To make the analyses, we will use three conceptions of science, three of technology and three of society and we will categorize the responses to the activity according to the conceptions used in the construction of arguments by the students. Thus, we intend to evaluate what kind of conceptions of science, technology and society are being taught in physics classes and, if possible, to make parallels with fake news and its implications with society.

SCIENCE

Initially, we will bring the most routine conception of science by Palacios et al. (2005), which says that “according to the traditional conception or ‘inherited conception’ of science, this is seen as an autonomous, objective, neutral enterprise and based on the application of a code of rationality far from any kind of external interference”. (PALACIOS et al., 2005, p. 14)

Another conception of science that we will use is also defined by Palacios et al. (2005), in which

an argument that contradicts this notion of science, which is based on an inductive method, is supported by the very history of science. In principle, history shows that numerous scientific ideas arise from multiple causes, some of them linked to inspiration, luck in internal contexts of theories, to the socioeconomic conditionings of a society, without being followed, in all cases, a standard or regulated procedure. (PALACIOS et al., 2005, p. 15)

Our third conception of science is brought from Fonseca (2007), who says that

the role of science today is no longer understood as the search for world dominance, but rather to safeguard it, in a context in which scientific knowledge still represents a form of power that is understood as a social, economic and political practice and a cultural phenomenon more than a theoretical-cognitive system. Science is in everyday life and has increasingly deserved a careful look at the social sciences in order to extract an understanding of its extent and its place in society and history. (FONSECA, 2007, p.36)

In order to simplify the posthumous work of reading and analyzing the answers, we synthesize the above conceptions as: 1 – Science based on a traditional, universal, neutral and impartial model; 2 – Mostly traditional science, with the inclusion of a historical perspective; 3 – Science seen as a social practice, economy and politics, included in various aspects of human relations.

TECHNOLOGY

With regard to the conceptions of technology, we started with Santos and Mortimer (2002), who define that technology can be deciphered as knowledge that allows the individual to control and transform the world.

We will also use the definition of Palacios et al. (2005), in which:

technology could be considered as the set of procedures that allow the application of the natural sciences’ own knowledge in industrial production, and the technique is limited to the times before the use of scientific knowledge as the basis of industrial technological development. (PALACIOS et al., 2005, p. 39)

Our last definition will also be from Palacios et al. (2005)

Focusing now on the science-technology relationship, many authors have demonstrated that this is the criterion that differentiates the technique of technology [..]. The term “technique” would refer to procedures, skills, artifacts, developments without the help of scientific knowledge. The term “technology” would then be used to refer to those developed systems taking into account this scientific knowledge. (PALACIOS et al., 2005, p. 37)

As was done with the conceptions of the Science axis, the chosen conceptions of Technology can be summarized as: 1 – Technology as a way to modify the world and control the world; 2 – Technology as a search for industrial and social progress; 3 – Technology as applied science.

SOCIETY

To define society, we initially based on the theoretical assumption brought by Palacios et al. (2005), based on Luhmann’s assumptions, which “considers society as one of the most different types of systems. Systems can be machines, organisms, psychic systems and social systems” (p.81)

A second definition of society is also proposed by Palacios et al. (2005), which say that there is a tendency in humans to sociability and that social structures are formed from the most to the least stable and complex, composing itself by a natural structure, which allows the characterization of a species. However, according to the authors, this characterization is not exclusive to humans.

Another conception of society is brought by Simon, quoted by Santos and Mortimer (2002) in the article An analysis of theoretical assumptions of the S-T-S (Science – Technology – Society) approach in the context of Brazilian education. According to them, society can be seen as an organic body that has in its entire structure levels of social life, based on the grouping of individuals living under certain economic systems of production and also distribution and consumption systems, anchored in a political regime, which obeys norms, laws and necessary for the maintenance of society as a whole.

Finally, we sumup the conceptions of Society as: 1 – Society as a structured, closed and immutable system; 2 – Society as a natural and partially changeable structure; 3 – Society as a living and changeable organism.

The conceptions that will make up the theoretical framework of this work, as they were synthesized, are presented in three axes in table 2 below, in order to facilitate reading and our process of analysis of responses. Subsequently, the justification that provided such a choice and a correlation between science, technology and society will be presented in order to form the STS approach.

Table 2- Synthesis of the conceptions of Science, Technology and Society

Science Technology Society
Design 1 Science based on a traditional, universal, neutral and impartial model Technology as a way to change the world and control the world Society as a structured, closed and immutable system
Conception 2 Mostly traditional science, with the inclusion of a historical perspective Technology in search of industrial and social progress Society as a natural and partially changeable structure
Design 3 Science seen as a social practice, economy and politics, included in various aspects of human relations Technology as applied science Society as a living and changeable organism

Source: author.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY

The choice of the order in which the definitions of Science, Technology and Society were placed was due to their similitudes. We found logical connections between conceptions, since some presented similar worldviews and, therefore, we classified ourselves with the same numbering. Thus, it is expected that a response classified as conception one of Science will be classified as conception somewhat in Technology and society (the same goes for conceptions two and three). Below we will present the connections we understand between each of the conceptions.

The conceptions listed as one relate to a view of aspects according to traditional teaching, where we can observe science as something ideal, neutral and irrefutable. Technology here is treated as a perfect tool of science itself, responsible for modifying and controlling the world, being likewise impartial and unquestionable. The Society reproduces the idealization of Science and responds to the control of Technology, behaving as a well-structured and closed system for non-scientific issues.

In conception two, science is treated similarly to conception one, but acquires here a historical contextualization that partially removes its ideal and infallible character. The concept of Technology is based on a developmental proposal, in which these artifacts and procedures are the results of the historical construction of Science and thus the responsible and meters of an industrial and social development. The Society, in turn, from these ideas of Science and Technology, is still a well organized structure, but it emerges naturally and is able to undergo changes. Since science dictates reality and evolves over time and technology is based on development, the social system is expected to develop according to previous axes.

The third conception of Science brings an idea of this as a constructed, changeable practice, dependent on the environment in which it is inserted. In the conception in question, technology is given as a direct extension of Science, being seen as a system of practices and knowledge that evolves with and from scientific concepts. The conception of Society, on the other hand, deals with a living, changeable organism that transforms its internal issues and is transformed by them. Therefore, there is a feedback link between the three axes, since they exist simultaneously within each other and are responsible for each other’s modifications.

METHODOLOGY

To carry out this work we initially did a bibliographical research on the conceptions of Science, Technology and Society that are present in the articles attached to Google Scholar, until the period of October 2019. We also surveyed the productions that would help in understanding different points of view and would later allow an analysis.

We use the conceptions shown in the theoretical contextualization to evaluate how students, in a context of STS teaching, when answering specific questions, resume their own conceptions of Science, Technology and Society. The main questions we tried to answer were: How do students build these answers? How do they retake the concepts of science, technology and society? What are these concepts?

To answer these questions, we used the questions asked to the students present in classes three and four of the teaching sequence and their answers to these questions; both are found in table 3, which can be found below. The teaching sequence in question was based on STS aspects and was composed of a socio-scientific issue, which involved a discussion about the risks of a telephony antenna being installed near the school, resuming the initial problematization of the classes, which referred to the implication of radiation and the human being. Complete SE can be found in another study by the authors. Classes three and four consisted of the distribution of an activity developed by CECIMIG, discussing the impacts of radiation on health and the reliability of news.

Table 3 – Questions and answers

Questions Examples of answers Predominant STS aspect
What degree of confidence do you place in the first news of the transcribed newspaper? ● None because if there is no real data, it would be coming from a reliable source, convinced and pertinent, super useful for the conviviality and information of society.

● Total confidence, because if the microwave passes radiation to food because the phone would not pass radiation to us, because we were connected good afternoon of the day to the devices.

Science, Technology and Society
Is the experience reported in the second news, in your opinion, good evidence that antennas or mobile phones pose health risks? ● Yes. The antenna transmitted too much radiation caused the woman’s husband to have brain cancer.

● It’s not good evidence, it could be a coincidence. There are people with tumors who live away from antennas so the presence of antennas can not be an exclusive cause.

Science, Technology
What kind of radiation is emitted by microwave oven, by cell phone, on teeth radiography? ● Non-ionizing radiation, they do not have the ability to ionize matter, but is able to transmit energy to cells that may or may not be harmful to health and has been under study without consensus so far

● Microwave : Microwave
Mobile : Radio waves
Radiography: radio x

Science
Does the use of mobile phones entail health risks for its users? ● Yes, I believe not to the extent of causing a cancer because that is still an open question, but in other cases yes.

● Yes, because the cell phone decreases the coexistence of the person in the social environment causing psychological and social problems. Right… Medical recommendations such as women do not use the cell phone on the waist because radiation even if radio affects pregnancy or causes infertility.

Science, Technology and Society

Source: author.

In the answer column found in table 3, presented earlier, some words are spelled exactly as students wrote in their activities. The non-alteration to the cultured form of the language occurred because we understood that possible changes could lead to differences in the meanings and meanings initially attributed by the students.

To analyze the answers given by the students in these classes and activities, we tabulated all the questions in a spreadsheet with the respective answers and read each one, attributing to each answer a conception of Science, one of Technology and one of Society according to the theoretical framework, which we will present briefly in the following results section.

RESULTS

To better understand the results and analyses that will be presented below, we will present the reports that the students have read. News 1: A committee of experts gathered a large amount of evidence from scientists and, in public hearings across the country, concluded that antennas and cell phones are ruining lives and harming the health of the population. News 2: A woman, whose husband had a brain tumor diagnosed after an antenna was placed 20 yards from her home, received well to the news the night before. She stated: I believe that these antennas are a threat and a health risk. News 3: … As time went by, the family and their two children realized that they were not sleeping as well as they used to, something they now know are connected to microwave radiation, according to a lab research. The woman then noticed that if she got hurt, her skin would take longer and longer to heal and her recent memory was getting worse.

After reading, the students answered the questions written in table 3. A total of 13 activities were collected from the students and analyzed later. Some examples of responses are exposed in Table 3 along with the classification of the dimensions to be evaluated.

From the analysis of the answers delivered by the students, we elaborate the following graphs:

Figure 1 – What degree of confidence do you place in the first news of the transcribed newspaper?

Source: author.

This question has as main objective to identify what concepts, conceptions and conjectures the students present to justify the trust attributed to a newspaper news. For example, a group of students replied that they do not trust the news at all and justified this with the fact that it is not a reliable source. Therefore, it is observed that the students do not present any scientific or technological argument to justify their choices. However, another group pointed out total confidence in transcribed newspaper news, evoking scientific concepts such as microwaves as a form of radiation that can be absorbed by food, or the cell phone, which emits waves and these can be considered as radiation, stating that the cell can, yes, cause some “modification” in humans. In any case, it can be verified that there is a large discrepancy in the responses of the groups, one attributing a high degree of confidence to the report and the other attributing no confidence. We consider the presence or not of scientific language of extreme relevance, because our objective was to identify which conceptions are present in the students’ answers. Thus, the absence of evident scientific conceptions presented itself as a possible problem, which may mean that some students do not evoke scientific arguments to corroborate or refute a news story.

It was possible to observe the predominance of the conception one of science, since the students, when responding to the activity, sometimes used their scientific concepts without raising hypotheses about the contexts of the reports, considering the universal and unquestionable science and not raising any questions about the radiation of the cell can or may not cause cancer and about what could be the variables attributed to such event.

We noticed that the students, when answering the questions, incurred one and three concepts of technology. We attribute these results to the fact that the conception one of science is directly linked to the conception one of technology, treating artifacts as the determining causes in the modification of the situation, as we can perceive in this speech: “because the cell cell causes radiation and radiation to our health is horrible, because of cancer”, in which the technological artifact here is fatally responsible for changing people’s health. The three conception of technology can be seen in responses such as: “an average degree of confidence, because the cell transmits non-ionizing radiation, and our body has ions.” showing itself through the mischaracterization of the technological artifact, treating it only as a by-product of science.

The conception of society that most appeared in the answers to the first question was conception one, which considers society as a closed, rigid and immutable system. One group gave the following response: “no degree of confidence, because we live in a very consumerist society that uses popular health news to increase its sales, such as less radiation or none.” One can observe in this response the idea of society as a rigid system, and that in turn also does not take into account the differences between social groups and their particularities. Students bring to this answer only the conceptions of societies that they themselves belong to, at no time taking into account the existence of other societies that use less cell phones.

Graph 2 – Does the experience reported in the second news constitute, in your opinion, good evidence that antennas or mobile phones pose health risks?

Source: author.

In this question, we analyze only what concerns the conceptions of science and technology, because the students presented little social aspects in their answers.

Again we see the predominance of the conception one of science, explained in this response of a group, which says: “By the antenna having transmitted a lot of radiation caused the husband of the woman to have brain cancer”. For us, the main indication of this answer belonging to the conception one of science is the fact that students directly connect the event to a scientific concept, without raising hypotheses about the contexts of the event, again transmitting the idea that science happens in a linear and infallible way.We can also identify this when they say that it is known by scientists that the individual, once exposed to too much radiation, will have cancer.

Something was also observed as a balance between the one and three conceptions of technology; most students refer to technology as a simple form of application of science, not taking into account its holistic character or the social characteristics of scientific doing. Like the answer “The antenna placed near the residence cannot imply the appearance of a fear, cell phones and antennas do emit a radiation whose name is rf (radio frequency) the frequency is low and the amount of radiation emitted is little, not enough to cause a tumor, much less in a few days.” in which we can observe a whole construction of arguments based solely on the scientific character of the technology in question. However, this scientific character is linked to the one conception of science, making technology deterministic and idealized.

We attribute the appearance of the concept of technology in the answers to this question to the fact that many students believe that technology has the function of being something that provides the individual with the ability to modify and control the world, as we can see in the following answer given by one of the groups: “it is not reliable, because the woman drew this conclusion because she thought that the antennas were the reason for her husband’s illness”. Analyzing this answer, we can observe that the students attribute to the antenna, here considered as a technological artifact, the possibility of causing cancer in the husband or not.

Graph 3 – What kind of radiation is emitted by microwave oven, by cell phone, on teeth radiography?

Source: author.

In this question, we observe the almost unanimity of the one conception of sciences, to which we attribute the way in which the question was constructed; for us, it presents itself as in most textbooks, where students need to give a correct answer, here understood as unique and indisputable, making it impossible to have divergences between the groups. A question elaborated in traditional ways tends to guide students to more traditional answers. Many students at this time have opened the textbook or even the internet to research what types of radiation are emitted from different sources in order to find answers such as microwave radiation, radio waves and x-rays. We emphasize that such answers do not mean that the students understood the difference between a radiation called radio waves and a radiation called x-ray, thus maintaining the need to go other ways to present this content to students.

Figure 4 – Does the use of mobile phones entail health risks for its users?

Source: author.

During the analysis of the graphs, it was possible to observe the predominance of the conception one of sciences in all of them, with conception two appearing in some as the second most raised by the students. An example of a response attributed to conception one is presented in the following answer: “the radiation emitted did not harm health, because the emitted are not able to destroy dna cells”. It can be observed that students do not raise hypotheses, only respond readily that radiation is not able to destroy DNA cells, presenting science as a universal certainty.

An example of conception two that was observed in this response can be read below: “Some radiation tests done with rats showed the development of tumors in them, it is still discussed whether the cell cell brings risks to human health.” This answer brings us to an idea that the certainties that science brings us are produced over time, referring to the idea that there is, yes, a historical perspective in the progression of scientific knowledge.

When analyzing the results, we observed a large number of responses that tended to the conception one of sciences and to the three conception of technology, which made us raise questions, because the expected was that, as mentioned earlier, the conceptions one were closely linked to each other, as well as conceptions two and three. An example of a response in this format was: “No, radiation exposure levels and duration time put this risk at a very low level.” We understand that, in this case, science is treated as irrefutable and Technology as something that reproduces in practice the undeniable truths of this same Science.

Both in the previous example and in others, as in the answer “Yes, because it has radio wave radiation.”, we were unable to determine which conception of Society was evoked to answer the proposed question. It is possible that such placements are not compatible with any of the definitions of society presented in this article, since at no time was the social factor presented as a relevant point of the problem presented. Therefore, these answers were not classified in the Society axis.

As for the analysis of the conceptions of Society as a whole, we can observe a majority of responses tending to conception one. In the answer “Yes, because the cell phone decreases the coexistence of the person in the social environment causing psychological and social problems. Right…[5] medical recommendations such as women do not use the cell phone on the waist because radiation even if radio affects pregnancy or causes infertility.”, we observe a belief that society functions as a rigid and structured system. The way the cell phone was treated as a social problem does not demonstrate the possibility of modification, being an immutable and undeniable social fact. When more scientific questions are presented, such as medical recommendations, the fatalism of the social problem does not change, only palliative measures are added to issues that science seen as traditional and undeniable can predict and control.

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

By understanding the context of the individuals, the context of application of the research, the activities performed and the results obtained in this article, we can conclude that traditional teaching can have consequences in the formation of students with regard to conceptions related to the axes of STS. The predominant tendency to one conceptions (more than 60% of the answers) can be easily understood as a reflection of this teaching model that between the concepts of Science, Technology and Society, ignoring the correlation between them. The proposal of traditional science education brings science as the sole focus, being it an infallible, neutral, apolitical deity and, as predicted in the theoretical contextualization, this proposal induces the formation of the one conceptions of technology and society. Analyzing the high incidence of the conception one of society (62% of the answers), we can observe, in addition to the precision of the theoretical prediction, an argumentative construction opposite that of a critical view, due to the understanding of the fatalism of society as a rigid and immutable system.

Another correlation observed with regard to the conceptions of Science and Society were the cases in which it was not possible to classify the society axis in the response. For the most part, the concept of Science evoked was the one, raising in us the question of what would be the connection between this data. Thinking that this view of science comes from traditional teaching, we cannot ignore the proposal to dissociate the concepts of Science, Technology and Society (especially the first two of the latter). Analyzing this methodology, it is reasonable to think that it also generates a delegitimization of social discourse. This means that traditional teaching also reinforces the thought that, when the subject is scientific, the social sphere is not important.

Contrary to the initial predictions, we obtained a higher incidence of the three conception of Technology (53% of the answers were classified as conception 3, while 34% as conception 1), where this is seen as the materialization of science in systems and artifacts. However, when analyzing specifically the answers that evoked the conceptions one of Sciences and three of Technology simultaneously, we noticed that there is a malleability in this conception of Technology. Simplifying the definition of the theoretical framework, we call this conception “applied science” and do not explain which understanding of science this conception refers to, leaving it amenable to modifications. However, this alone does not explain their broad student uptake. To this phenomenon we attribute the corrupting potential of traditional teaching and its vision of Science. We may think that if science is understood as a kind of deity and the school is seen as its temple, it is plausible to see any theme as a byproduct of that. Thus, the majority presence of conception three of Technology becomes plausible.

Within the current school structure, students develop mechanisms and procedures to meet the demands imposed on them. Within these mechanisms and procedures, the ways of interpreting questions and elaborating answers, which directly oppose our idealization that all answers should be framed in the three conceptions of Science, Technology and Society simultaneously. This occurs, therefore, the developed way of interpreting and answering questions does not require analysis of content related to each other or within the lived reality, requiring only the “correct” answer. Thus, we understand that the answers that cover the three conceptions of science and society require greater reflection on the part of students, in addition to a broader view of the dimensions that permeate the activity. To achieve this reflection and understand that science is not unquestionable goes against what is developed within a traditional teaching model.

It is possible to conclude, therefore, that traditional teaching has not helped in coping with problems such as “fake news”, since most students do not present a critical look, interrelating concepts of Science, Technology and Society, in order to create a more holistic view of reality. Due to this teaching model, even the analysis of the reliability of the information given in ordinary news is a complex task that does not give clarity in its answers. Faced with these challenges, the use of a STS approach is one of the concrete alternatives to expand social and technological understandings and their connections with science. This is based on the principles of this pedagogical approach, which deals with a study of a cut out of reality analyzing everything that concerns the theme. Furthermore, the understanding of these three axes and their interconnections is an extremely important factor in the formation of a critical citizen capable of analyzing information and facing “fake news” and its manipulative purpose.

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APPENDIX – FOOTNOTE REFERENCES

4. The term is used to characterize the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union initiated with a referendum.

5. Ellipsis represents a word not identifiable by the authors.

[1] Media Specialist in Education, Licensed Physicist.

[2] Licensing in physics.

[3] Licensing in physics.

Submitted: August, 2020.

Approved: September, 2020.

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