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Reification in Science Education Research: A Neglected Problem
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. (NV)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. (NV)
2011 (English)In:  , 2011Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this presentation is to examine problems connected to the search for underlying causes for what occurs in activities in the science classroom. Our concern is primarily with the tendency to reify processes and turn them into underlying structures, thus creating entities out of human activities. Examples include reification of cognitive and emotional processes (e.g. understanding and interest) as well as socio-cultural ones (e.g. norms and power). We high-light theoretical, methodological, and educational problems connected to this habit. Theoretically and methodologically, there is a problematic circularity connected to the habit of studying people’s actions (such as talk in interviews), reify these actions in the form of entities, and finally take the entities as causes for the initially observed actions. Moreover, the field tends to become oversaturated with new entities whose existence it is not possible to verify empirically. Finally, by striving to attain reified competencies within students, the educational system runs the risk of focusing too much on students attaining certain states, at the expense of learning to take part in meaningful activities having purposes. These problems have been discussed previously. Nevertheless, there are few traces of their existence in the science education research literature, and new studies are conducted as if there was never an issue in the first place. Therefore, it is timely to reopen this issue for renewed discussion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
reification, pragmatism, science education, cognitive, discourse, norms, identity, power, action, activity
National Category
Research subject
Science Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-71196OAI: diva2:484053
ESERA 2011 Conference, Lyon, September 5-9, 2011
Available from: 2012-01-31 Created: 2012-01-26 Last updated: 2012-01-31Bibliographically approved

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