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Learning Science

A Singular Plural Perspective

Series:

Wolff-Michael Roth

How do you intend (to learn, know, see) something that you do not yet know? Given the theory-laden nature of perception, how do you perceive something in a science demonstration that requires knowing the very theory that you are to learn? In this book, the author provides answers to these and other (intractable) problems of learning in science. He uses both first-person, phenomenological methods, critically analyzing his own experiences of learning in unfamiliar situations and third-person, ethnographic methods, critically analyzing the learning of students involved in hands-on investigations concerning motion and static electricity.
Roth continues his longstanding interest in understanding how we learn science and the question why all the changes to science education made over the past five decades have a significant impact of increasing understanding and interest in the subject. Roth articulates in his concluding chapter that the problem lies in part with the theories of learning employed—in the course of his biographical experience, he has appropriated and abandoned numerous theoretical frameworks, including (radical, social) constructivism, because they fell short when it came to understand real-time processes in school science classrooms.
This book, which employs the cognitive phenomenological method described in the recently published Doing Qualitative Research: Praxis of Method (SensePublishers, 2005), has been written for all those who are interested in learning science: undergraduate students preparing for a career in science teaching, graduate students interested in the problems of teaching and learning of science, and faculty members researching and teaching in science education.

Doing Teacher-Research

A Handbook for Perplexed Practioners

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Wolff-Michael Roth

There are many teachers who think about doing research in their own classes and schools but who are perplexed by what appears to be involved. This book is intended for these perplexed practitioners, to provide them with an easily understandable narrative about the concrete praxis of doing research in their classrooms or in those of their teacher peers teaching next door or in the same school. The fundamental idea underlying this book is to provide an easily accessible but nevertheless intellectually honest text that allows teachers to increase their agency with respect to better understanding their praxis and the events in their classrooms by means of research.
The author draws on his experience of doing teacher-research while being a high school teacher and department head. Roth uses six concrete research studies that he has conducted alone or with peers to describe the salient parts of any teacher-researcher investigation including: what topic to study; issues of ethics and permissions from students, school, and parents; how and what sources to collect; how to structure resources; how to construct data from the materials; how to derive claims; and how to write a report/research study. Roth chose the case-based approach because cases provide the details necessary for understanding why and how he, as teacher-researcher, has made certain decisions, and what he would do differently today. Using this case-based approach, he allows readers to tie methods choices to situations that they likely are familiar with.

Series:

Wolff-Michael Roth

In the course of his research career, much of which was based in his own classrooms, Wolff-Michael Roth explored numerous new theoretical frameworks when the old ones proved to be unable to account for the data. In this book, surrounding 11 of his publications spanning 20 years of work, the author tells a story of how science education research concretely realized and singularized itself. That is, rather than taking sole credit for the work that ultimately came to bear his name, Roth develops a historical narrative in which his work came to realize cultural-historical possibilities inherent in the field of science education. But perhaps because some types of this work came to be realized for a first time, Roth’s research also came to be characterized by others in the community as “cutting edge.” This work, therefore presents as much an auto/biographical narrative as it presents a cultural-historical recollection of science education as it unfolded over the past two decades.

Dialogism

A Bakhtinian Perspective on Science and Learning

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Wolff-Michael Roth

In this book, Wolff-Michael Roth takes a 38-minute conversation in one science classroom as an occasion for analyzing learning and development from a perspective by and large inspired by the works of Mikhail Bakhtin but also influenced by Lev Vygotsky and 20th century European phenomenology and American pragmatism. He throws a new and very different light on the nature and use of language in science classroom, and its transformation. In so doing, he not only exposes the weaknesses of existing theoretical frameworks, including radical and social constructivism, but also exhibits problems in his own previous thinking about knowing and learning in science classrooms. The book particularly addresses issues normally out of the light of sight of science education research, including the material bodily principle, double-voicedness, laughter, coarse language, swearing, the carnal and carnivalistic aspects of life, code-switching, and the role of vernacular in the transformation of scientific language. The author suggests that only a unit of analysis that begins with the fullness of life, singular, unique, and once-occurrent Being, allows an understanding of learning and development, emotion and motivation, that is, knowing science in its relation to the human condition writ large. In this, the book provides responses to questions that conceptual change research, for example, is unable to answer, for example, the learning paradox, the impossibility to eradicate misconceptions, and the resistance of teachers to take a conceptual change position.

Students in Action

Cogeneratives Dialogues from Secondary to Elementary Schools

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Ian Stith and Wolff-Michael Roth

This book chronicles our work on cogenerative dialoguing in high schools and an elementary school. Cogenerative dialoguing brings together students, teachers, and other relevant stakeholders in the educational enterprise to make sense of some common teaching—learning experiences and issues arising thereof in order to design changes in their environment for the purpose of improving the teaching—learning situation. Our work addresses the overarching question: What will happen when cogenerative dialogue praxis is introduced to an elementary school class? More specifically we explore; the use of cogenerative dialogues as research praxis in terms of some of the ethical issues inherent in classroom research; how cogenerative dialogue praxis can serve as one viable solution for teachers to ethically mediate the various activity systems that constitute a class; the internal contradictions inherent in cogenerative dialogues; the “unfocused” moments during cogenerative dialogues; the long term learning that takes place during the cogenerative dialogues; and finally we explore what we learned from the elementary teacher we worked with. The intended audiences for this book are professionals or acedemics that have used, or are curious about, cogenerative dialogues. Specifically, the unique application of cogenerative dialogues in an elementary school speaks to teachers at that level interested in increasing student participation.

Science, Learning, Identity

Sociocultural and Cultural-Historical Perspectives

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Edited by Wolff-Michael Roth and Kenneth Tobin

Over the recent years, identity has become one of the most central theoretical concept and topics of scholarship in a number of disciplines, including science education. In this volume, leading science educators articulate in carefully prepared case studies their theoretical perspective on science, learning, and identity. More importantly, the authors of the chapters that in the different parts of the book engage each other in a collaboratively written chapter concerning some of the central issues that have arisen from their individual studies; and in particular they engage each other over the similarities and differences between their approaches.
This book, which features detailed case studies of identity as both resource and outcomes of learners in a variety of settings, will be of interest to anyone concerned with learning science in and out-of schools. The book also caters for readers who have wondered about how identity mediates science learning and, simultaneously, how engagement in science-related tasks and activities mediates the emergence and development of identities. The general tenor of all chapters is a cultural-historical and sociocultural framework that is brought to issues of identity, thereby inherently transcending the individual person and linking identity to cultural possibilities.

The Culture of Science Education

Its History in Person

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Edited by Kenneth Tobin and Wolff-Michael Roth

The Culture of Science Education: Its History in Person features the auto/biographies of the professional lives of 22 science educators from 11 countries situated in different places along the career ladder within an ongoing narrative of the cultural history of the field. Many contributors began to identify as science educators at about the time Sputnik was launched but others were not yet born. Hence the book articulates the making of a field with its twists and turns that define a career as a scholar in science education.
Through the eyes of the contributing scholars, the development of science education is seen in the United States and its spread to all parts of the world is tracked, leading to a current situation where some universities from overseas are exporting science education to the United States through graduate programs—especially doctoral degrees. Other key issues addressed are the conceptual personae, such as Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, who have shaped the field of science education and how publishing in English in high-impact journals and obtaining external funds from private and governmental agencies have become driving forces in science education.
The Culture of Science Education: Its History in Person was written for science educators with an interest in the history of science education as it is experienced as lived culture. The book is intended as a reference book for scholars and as a text for graduate students involved in science education.

Teaching to Learn

A View from the Field

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Edited by Kenneth Tobin and Wolff-Michael Roth

A recurrent trope in education is the gap that exists between theory, taught at the university, and praxis, what teachers do in classrooms. How might one bridge this inevitable gap if new teachers are asked to learn (to talk) about teaching rather than to teach? In response to this challenging question, the two authors of this book have developed coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing, two forms of praxis that allow very different stakeholders to teach and subsequently to reflect together about their teaching. The authors have developed these forms of praxis not by theorizing and then implementing them, but by working at the elbow of new and experienced teachers, students, supervisors, and department heads.
Coteaching, which occurs when two or more teachers teach together, supports learning to teach while improving student achievement. Cogenerative dialogues are conversations among all those who have been present in a lesson; they ensure that what was learned while coteaching is beneficial for all coteachers and learners. Tobin and Roth describe the many ways coteaching and cogenerative dialogues are used to improve learning environments—dramatically improving teaching and learning across cultural borders defined by race, ethnicity, gender, and language.
Teaching to Learn is written for science educators and teacher educators along the professional continuum: new and practicing teachers, graduate students, professors, researchers, curriculum developers, evaluation consultants, science supervisors, school administrators, and policy makers. Thick ethnographic descriptions and specific suggestions provide readers access to resources to get started and continue their journeys along a variety of professional trajectories.

The World of Science Education

Handbook of Research in North America

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Edited by Wolff-Michael Roth and Kenneth Tobin

Each volume in the 7-volume series The World of Science Education reviews research in a key region of the world. These regions include North America, South and Latin America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe and Israel, North Africa and the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The focus of this Handbook is on North American (Canada, US) science education and the scholarship that most closely supports this program. The reviews of the research situate what has been accomplished within a given field in North American rather an than international context. The purpose therefore is to articulate and exhibit regional networks and trends that produced specific forms of science education. The thrust lies in identifying the roots of research programs and sketching trajectories—focusing the changing façade of problems and solutions within regional contexts. The approach allows readers review what has been done and accomplished, what is missing, and what might be done next.

Analyzing Communication

Praxis of Method

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Wolff-Michael Roth and Pei-Ling Hsu

The collection of data sources in the social sciences involves communication in one form or another: between research participants who are observed while communicating or between researcher and researched, who communicate so that the former can learn about/from the latter. How does one analyze communication? In particular, how does one learn to analyze data sources established in and about communication? In response to these questions, the authors provide insights into the "laboratory" of social science research concerned with the analysis of communication in all of its forms, including language, gestures, images, and prosody. Writing in the spirit of Bourdieu, and his recommendations for the transmission of a scientific habitus, the authors allow readers to follow their social science research in the making. Thus, each chapter focuses on a particular topic-identity, motivation, knowing, interaction-and exhibits how to go about researching it: How to set up research projects, how to collect data sources, how to find research questions, and how to do many other practical things to succeed. The authors comment on excerpts from the findings of between 2 and 4 published studies to describe how to write and publish research, how to address audiences, which decisions they have made, which alternative approaches there might exist, and many other useful recommendations for data analysis and paper publishing. In the end, the authors actually follow an expert social scientist as he analyzes data in real time in front of an audience of graduate students. The entire book therefore constitutes something like a journey into the kitchen of an experienced chef who gives advice in the process of cooking.