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Beyond Explanations: What Else Do Students Need to Understand Science?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
2009 (English)In: Science Education, ISSN 0036-8326, E-ISSN 1098-237X, Vol. 93, 1026-1049 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Students’ difficulties with learning science have generally been framed in terms of their generalized conceptual knowledge of a science topic as elicited through their explanations of natural phenomena. In this paper, we empirically explore what more goes into giving a scientific account of a natural phenomenon than giving such generalized explanations. We audio-recorded pairs of upper secondary students during lab-work in electrochemistry. We used a situative and pragmatist approach to study learning in action. This approach made it possible to study how the particulars and contingencies of working with a real electrochemical cell went into students’ reasoning. Our results show that students needed to learn to make distinctions, recognize, and name the particulars in encounters with their cell. They also needed to learn what counts as reasonable readings and to deal with quantitative issues and correlations pertaining to their cell. We refer to these additional learning requirements as the students’ taxonomic and measurement interests. Implications for what is involved in giving a scientific account of a natural phenomenon in school are discussed. The study constitutes an attempt to include, in a systematic way, also the particulars and contingencies of actual practice in an account of students’ reasoning in science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley Interscience , 2009. Vol. 93, 1026-1049 p.
Keyword [en]
learning, science education, electrochemistry, practical epistemology analysis, pragmatism
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-31326DOI: 10.1002/sce.20343ISI: 000271173500004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-31326DiVA: diva2:276081
Available from: 2009-11-10 Created: 2009-11-10 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Contingency in high-school students’ reasoning about electrochemical cells: Opportunities for learning and teaching in school science
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Contingency in high-school students’ reasoning about electrochemical cells: Opportunities for learning and teaching in school science
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis takes its departure from the extensive literature on students’ alternative ideas in science. Although describing students’ conceptual knowledge in many science areas, the literature offers little about how this knowledge enters into the science learning process. Neither has it focused on how particulars and contingencies of curricular materials enter into the learning process. In this thesis I make high-resolution analyses of students’ learning in action during school science activities about real or idealized electrochemical cells. I use a discursive mechanism of learning developed to describe how students become participants in new practices through slow changes in word use. Specifically, I examine how alternative and accepted scientific ideas, as well as curricular materials, enter into students’ reasoning. The results are then used for producing hypotheses over how a teacher can support students’ science learning. Alternative ideas in electrochemistry did not necessarily interfere negatively with, and were sometimes productive for, students’ reasoning during the activities. Students included the particulars and contingencies of curricular materials in their reasoning not only when interacting with a real electrochemical cell but also in a more theoretical concept mapping activity about an idealized cell. Through taxonomic and correlational investigations students connected the particulars and contingencies of the real electrochemical cell to the generic knowledge of electrochemistry. When actively introduced by the researcher, such investigations had consequences for how single students framed their explanations of a real electrochemical cell. The results indicate ways in which teachers may encourage the productive use of contingencies to promote learning within the science classroom. However, this may require consideration of what students say in terms of consequences for their further learning rather than in terms of correct or incorrect content.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University, 2010. 68 p.
Keyword
electrochemistry, laboratory work, concept mapping, high-school, learning, teaching, pragmatism, practical epistemology analysis, contingency, discourse, misconceptions, alternative ideas, curricular materials
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-32303 (URN)978-91-7155-986-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-02-12, Dahlströmsalen, Campus Konradsberg, Hus D, Rålambsvägen 26 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
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Hur kan lärare hjälpa elever att resonera naturvetenskapligt
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3:Manuscript; Paper 4:ManuscriptAvailable from: 2010-01-21 Created: 2009-12-07 Last updated: 2010-01-20Bibliographically approved

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