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Distractions in the school science laboratory
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education. (NV)
2013 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 43, no 4, 1477-1499 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, I make a case for the potential educative worth of distractions for learning science in the school laboratory. Distractions are operationalized as experiences lying outside the main purpose of the laboratory activity, thereby diverting students’ attention from that purpose. Through a practical epistemology analysis, I examined in close detail the conversations of three groups of high school students trying to explain how a real galvanic cell works. The three groups experienced the same two distractions, (1) a nonworking light-emitting diode and (2) negative readings on a voltmeter. The analysis reveals how one of the groups, through a series of contingencies, successively made the two distractions continuous with the main purpose of the activity. In the remaining two groups, no such continuity was established. The results show that (a) experiences initially being distracting, perplexing, and confusing may indeed acquire significance for the students’ possibilities of coping with the main purpose of the activity but that (b) the outcome is highly contingent on the particular experiences drawn upon by the students to cope with the distractions. Consequently, I discuss ways in which teachers may turn distractions encountered in laboratory activities into educative experiences for more than a few lucky students.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Science+Business Media B.V., 2013. Vol. 43, no 4, 1477-1499 p.
Keyword [en]
Laboratory work, Practical work, Learning, Teaching, Chemistry, Pragmatism
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Research subject
Science Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85943DOI: 10.1007/s11165-012-9316-zISI: 000321773000008OAI: diva2:585571
How can teachers aid students towards scientific reasoning?
Swedish Research Council, 2004-1444

AuthorCount: 1;

Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2013-08-23Bibliographically approved

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Hamza, Karim
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