The European Educational Researcher

A Critical Analysis of the Democratic Argument for Teaching Science: The Case of Cell Phones

The European Educational Researcher, Online-First Articles, pp. -
OPEN ACCESS VIEWS: 88 DOWNLOADS: 69 Publication date: 15 Feb 2023
A number of diverse arguments have been proposed by researchers of science education regarding the reason science should be taught in schools. These arguments inevitable play a key role in the curriculum designed by policy makers. The present study turns its attention into the democratic argument and tries to explore its validity through a distinct socio-scientific issue that citizen is likely to come across in their everyday life, that of radiation emitted from cell phones. In particular, it tries to study the required knowledge of physics that will enable individuals to deal with the emission of radiation from cell phones in an effective way. Moreover, drawing from sharp conflicts that have arisen during the last years around the world between citizens and cell phone companies regarding the installation of cell towers within residential areas, it tries to record information about different places in the world where the cell phone controversy has made headline news.
democratic argument, science education, cell phones
Kaliampos, G., Kotsis, K. T., & Kornelaki, A. C. (2023). A Critical Analysis of the Democratic Argument for Teaching Science: The Case of Cell Phones. The European Educational Researcher.
  1. Abrami, P. (2008). Instructional interventions affecting critical thinking skills and dispositions: A stage 1 meta-analysis. Review of Educational research, 78(4), 1102-1134.
  2. Bailes, K. (2022, August 7). Public meeting called in Westgate over phone mast installation concerns, The Isle of Thanet News.
  3. Behar-Horenstein, L., & Niu, L. (2011). Teaching critical thinking skills in higher education: A review of the literature. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 25-42.
  4. Bencze, L., & Carter, L. (2011). Globalizing students acting for the common good. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(6), 648–669.
  5. Boilevin, J.-M., Delserieys, A., & Ravanis, K. (2022). Precursor Models for Teaching and Learning Science During Early Childhood. Switzerland: Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
  6. Burcin, S., & Ince, E. (2010). Internet as a source of misconception: ‘Radiation and radioactivity’. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 9(4), 94-100.
  7. Camicia, S. P. (2009). Identifying soft democratic education: Uncovering the range of civic and cultural choices in instructional materials. Social Studies, 100, 136–142.
  8. Catalano, T., & Leonard, A. E. (2016). Moving people and minds: Dance as a vehicle of democratic education. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 11, 63–84.
  9. Dawn (2019, January 24). PHC orders removal of 20 mobile towers over health hazards, Dawn.
  10. DeCesare, T. (2012). On the potential contributions of high school philosophy to ethical and democratic education. Teaching Ethics, 13(1), 1–16.
  11. Department of Health (2000) Mobile phone Base stations and Health. Didcot, UK
  12. DiCamillo, L., & Pace, J. L. (2010). Preparing citizens for multicultural democracy in a U.S. history class. High School Journal, 93(2), 69–82.
  13. Driver, R. Leach, J. Millar, R. & Scott, P. (1996). Young people’s images of science. Buckingham–Philadelphia, Open University Press.
  14. EACEA. (2017). Citizenship education at school in Europe, Brussels: Eurydice.
  15. Erduran, S., & Kaya, E. (2016) Scientific Argumentation and Deliberative Democracy: An Incompatible Mix in School Science?. Theory Into Practice, 55(4), 302-310. DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2016.1208067
  16. Fallace, T. D. (2016). The origins of classroom deliberation: Democratic education in the shadow of totalitarianism, 1938–1960. Harvard Educational Review, 86, 506–526.
  17. Fraser-Burgess, S. (2012). Group identity, deliberative democracy and diversity in education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44, 480–499.
  18. Gavrilas, L., Kotsis, K. T., & Papanikolaou, M.-S. (2022). Attitudes and behaviors of university students towards electromagnetic radiation of cell phones and wireless networks. Aquademia, 6(2), 1-13.
  19. Gibson, M. L., & Grant, C. A. (2012). Toward a paideia “of the soul”: Education to enrich America’s multicultural democracy. Intercultural Education, 23, 313–324.
  20. Haav, K. (2008). Civic education in Estonia: Democratic or authoritarian. Journal of Social Science Education, 7(1), 121–130.
  21. Hewitt, P. (2014). The concepts of Physics. New Jersey: Pearson Education
  22. Hodson, D. (2003). Time for action: Science education for an alternative future. International Journal of Science Education, 25(6), 645–670.
  23. Howe, L., & Krosnick, J. (2017). Attitude strength. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 327-351
  24. Institute of educational policy (2014). New school (21st century school) – new curriculum, second part. Retrieved from
  25. Jenkins, E. W. (1999). School science, citizenship and the public understanding of science. International Journal of Science education, 21, 703-710.
  26. Jun, S. (2016). The reciprocal longitudinal relationships between mobile phone addiction and depressive symptoms among Korean adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior, 58, 179-186
  27. Knowle West (2022, February 28). Residents and their dogs in protest against plans for phone mast in Redcatch Park, Knowle West.
  28. Lan, C.-F. (2013). Democratic education in the new media era: Toward a framework of democratic media literacy. Ohio Social Studies Review, 50(1), 51–62.
  29. Lefrançois, D., & Ethier, M. (2010). Translating the ideal of deliberative democracy into democratic education: Pure Utopia? Educational Philosophy and Theory, 42, 271–292.
  30. Lee, H., Addicott, M., Martin, L., Harris, K., Goggin, K., Richter,K., Pattern, C., McClernon, F., Fleming, K., & Catley, D. (2017).Implicit attitudes and smoking behavior in a smoking cessation induction trial. Nicotine & Tobacco research: Official Journal of the Society for research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 20(1), 58-66.
  31. Levinson, R. (2010). Science education and democratic participation: An uneasy congruence? Studies in Science Education, 46(1), 69–119.
  32. Levitt, B., & Lai, H. (2010). Biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell tower base stations and other antenna arrays. Environment, 18, 369-395.
  33. Lo, J. C. (2017). Empowering young people through conflict and conciliation: Attending to the political and agonism in democratic education. Democracy & Education, 25(1), 2.
  34. Marin, L., & Halpern, D. (2011). Pedagogy for developing critical thinking in adolescents: Explicit instruction produces greatest gains. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 6(1), 1-13.
  35. Merigala, S., & Viswanath, V. (2019, February 7). Lack of state policy for installing cell phone towers worry Chennai residents, The New Indian Express.
  36. Millar, R. (1996). Towards a science curriculum for public understanding. School science review, 77 (280), 7-18.
  37. NRPB (2005). Leaflet available from the National Radiological Protection Board, accessed to 2005.
  38. Nasser, S., Amer, N., Ghobashi, M., Morcos, G., Hafez, S., Shaheen, W., & Helmy, M. (2018). Knowledge, attitude, and Practises (KAP) study and antioxidant status among mobile users. Bioscience Research, 15(4), 3658-3664.
  39. National Research Council. (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Neumann, S., & Hopf, M. (2012). Students’ conceptions about ‘radiation’: results from an explorative interview study of 9th grade students. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21, 826-834.
  40. NGSS Lead States (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For States, by States. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.
  41. Osborne, J., & Dillon, J. (2008). Science education in Europe: Critical reflections. A report to the nuffield foundation. King’s College London.
  42. Östman, L., & Almqvist, J. (2011). What do values and norms have to do with scientific literacy. In C. Linder, L. Östman, D. A. Roberts, P.-O. Wickman, G. Erickson, & A. MacKinnon (Eds.), Exploring the landscape of scientific literacy (pp. 160–175). Routledge.
  43. Ottander, K., & Simon, S. (2021) Learning democratic participation? Meaning-making in discussion of socio-scientific issues in science education. International Journal of Science Education, 43(12), 1895-1925.
  44. Payne, K. A. (2017). Democratic teacher education in elementary classrooms: Learning about, through, and for thick democracy. Journal of Social Studies Research, 41, 101–115.
  45. Pendse, N., & Zagade, T., (2014). Knowledge and attitude regarding health hazards of mobile phone users among the junior college students. International journal of Science and Research, 3(5), 554-561.
  46. Piper, B., Daily, S., Martin, S., & Martin, M. (2019). Evaluation of a brief intervention to reduce cell phone use in college students. MedRxiv, 1-30.
  47. Prewitt, K. (1983). Scientific Illiteracy and Democratic theory. Daedalus, 112, 49-64.
  48. Pupil Researcher Initiative (2004). Ideas and evidence Science Pack. Collins.
  49. Rehfeldt, R.A., & Tyndall, I. (2022). Why We Are Not Acting to Save Ourselves: ACT, Health, and Culture. Behav Analysis Practice 15, 55–70.
  50. Ravanis, K. (2022). Research trends and development perspectives in Early Childhood Science Education: an overview. Education Sciences, 12(7), 456.
  51. Reiss, M. (2015). The nature of science, in Toplis, R. (Ed.), Learning to Teach Science in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience, 4th edn, Routledge, London.
  52. Roberts, A. D. (2007). Scientific literacy/science literacy. In S. K. Abell, & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 729–780). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  53. Roberts, D. A., & Bybee, R. W. (2014). Scientific literacy, science literacy, and science education. In N. G. Lederman, & S. K. Abell (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (Vol. 2 (pp.545–558). Routledge, Taylor & Francis.
  54. Rudsberg, K., & Öhman, J. (2015). The role of knowledge in participatory and pluralistic approaches to ESE. Environmental Education Research, 21(7), 955–974. 1080/13504622.2014.971717
  55. Sant, E. (2019). Democratic Education: A Theoretical Review (2006–2017). Review of Educational Research, 89(5), 655–696. DOI: 10.3102/0034654319862493
  56. Sengul, O. (2019). Linking Scientific Literacy, Scientific Argumentation, and Democratic Citizenship. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 7(4), 1090-1098. DOI: 10.13189/ujer.2019.070421
  57. Sheeran, P., & Webb, T.L. (2016). The Intention–Behavior Gap. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 10(9), 503-518.
  58. Simonneaux, L. (2014). From promoting the techno-sciences to activism: A variety of objectives involved in their teaching of SSIs. In L. Bencze, & S. Alsop (Eds.), Activist science and technology education (pp. 99–111). Springer.
  59. Singh, A. (2022, September 12). ‘It triggers traffic jams’: 100 protest against mobile tower on footpath, The times of India.
  60. Stitzlein, S. M. (2011). Democratic education in an era of town hall protests. Theory and Research in Education, 9(1), 73–86.
  61. Tannebaum, R. P., Peterson, M., & Tierney, M. (2015). Assisting novice teachers with promoting democratic education in the social studies classroom. The Councilor, 76(2), 4.
  62. The Royal Society (1985). The Public Understanding of Science. London, The Royal Society.
  63. Thomas, G. & Durant, J. (1987). Why Should we Promote the Public Understanding of Science? In Shortland, M. (ed.) (1987) Scientific Literacy Papers. Oxford Department for External Studies, 1-14.
  64. Tribune News Service (2022, May 12). Residents of Samrala chowk protest mobile tower installation, block highway, The tribune,
  65. Young, H., Freedman, R., & Ford, A. (2004). University physics with modern physics. 13th ed. San Francisco: Jim Smith.
Creative Commons License