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Avoiding Simplicity, Confronting Complexity

Advances in Studying and Designing (Computer-Based) Powerful Learning Environments

Edited by Geraldine Clarebout and Jan Ellen

Researchers from all over the world are fascinated by the question on how to design powerful learning environments and how to effectively integrate computers in instruction. Members of the special interest groups 'Instructional Design' and 'Learning and Instruction with Computers’ of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction belong to this group of fascinated researchers. By presenting their research on these questions in this book, these researchers provide empirically based answers, finetune previously suggested solutions, and raise new questions and research paths. The contributions each try to deal with the actual complexity of learning environments, while avoiding naïve simplicity. The book presents an up-to-date overview of current research by experienced researchers from well-known research centers. This book is intended for an audience of educational researchers, instructional designers, and all those fascinated by questions with respect to the design of learning environments and the use of technology.

Staging & Performing Scientific Concepts

Lecturing is Thinking with Hands, Eyes, Body, & Signs


Lilian Pozzer Ardenghi and Wolff-Michael Roth

In this book, the authors argue that science concepts are more than what lecturers say and write on the board—science concepts cannot be abstracted from the complex performances that take place in the classroom. Through analysis of nonverbal aspects of communication and interaction during science lectures, which take into account the body, how it is placed in and moves across space, its orientation, its movements (gestures), the aspects of the setting it marks and other resources used, the authors show how each one of the resources employed provides different types and amounts of information that need to be taken into consideration all together, as a unit, to mark and re-mark sense so that audiences may remark it. The book also provides examples that show how the integration of multiple resources provides the coherence of the ideological unit, presenting lectures as an integrated performance of knowledge in action. The book is of interest for science educators and learning scientists in general, as well as scholars interested in multimodal analysis of interaction and face-to-face communication..


Edited by Cliff Malcom and Michael Anthony Samuel

This book arises from the author’s experience of the South African science curriculum development and teaching since 1994, exploring definitions of science and approaches to science education appropriate to a newly liberated developing country. Each of the 50 chapters is borne out of Cliff Malcolm’s close relationships with communities in SA where he obtained deep insights into their attitudes to science teaching and learning, providing him with an empirical basis to challenge tertiary institutions to transform their curriculum offerings to embrace the culture and world views of African students. The author makes a compelling case for the evolution of relevant science teaching and learning that provide ‘capital’ for indigenous knowledges. The book has relevance also to first world countries, because the social and educational problems facing South Africa, though starker here, are present in all countries.
The book addresses, among others, the nature of scientific knowledge and knowledge production; how scientific knowledge can be accessed and represented; what counts as legitimate scientific knowledge in the South African context of colonization, liberation, inequity and African belief systems. The book extends the debates on “African” Science, and offers ways of talking and writing about science that reframe it, acknowledging problematics and pluralism, offering ways of bringing Western and African thought together.
Using a richly descriptive novelistic style, the author sketches vivid portraits of his research sites, participants and experiences. His vignettes are embedded in deep theoretical insights, lending gravity to the development discourse in science education, providing a coherent language for the transformational agendas of science educators committed to the project of social justice through a relevant science.

Teaching and Learning about Science

Language, Theories, Methods, History, Traditions and Values

Derek Hodson

Findings generated by recent research in science education, international debate on the guiding purposes of science education and the nature of scientific and technological literacy, official and semi-official reports on science education (including recommendations from prestigious organizations such as AAAS and UNESCO), and concerns expressed by scientists, environmentalists and engineers about current science education provision and the continuing low levels of scientific attainment among the general population, have led to some radical re-thinking of the nature of the science curriculum. There has been a marked shift of rhetorical emphasis in the direction of considerations of the nature of science, model-based reasoning, inquiry-based learning, scientific argumentation and the use of language-rich learning experiences (reading, writing, talking) to enhance concept acquisition and development. These findings, arguments and pronouncements seem to point very clearly in the direction of regarding science education as a study of scientific practice. This book presents a comprehensive, research-based account of how such a vision could be assembled into a coherent curriculum and presented to students in ways that are meaningful, motivating and successful. The author takes what might be described as an anthropological approach in which scientists are studied as a socially, economically and politically important community of people. This group has its own distinctive language, body of knowledge, investigative methods, history, traditions, norms and values, each of which can be studied explicitly, systematically and reflectively. This particular approach was chosen for the powerful theoretical overview it provides and for its motivational value, especially for students from sociocultural groups currently under-served by science education and under-represented in science.
The book, which is both timely and important, is written for teachers, student teachers, graduate students in education, teacher educators, curriculum developers and those responsible for educational policy. It has the potential to impact very substantially on both pre-service and inservice science teacher education programmes and to shift school science education practice strongly in the direction currently being advocated by prominent science educators.


O. Roger Anderson

In general, it is widely recognized that there is a complementary and dynamic relationship between the organization of knowledge in memory and higher order cognitive operations such as abstract thought and inquiry skills. Knowledge organization has been widely studied based on constructs such as information hierarchies, network diagrams (e.g., concept maps), and more recently flow maps that provide evidence of recursive network linking of domain-specific content during recall. Some aspects of current theory on the relationship of science knowledge networks in memory and higher order thinking are presented, including theoretical models for information networks based on recursive organization of domain-specific content in memory, empirical evidence of individual differences in students’ knowledge networks based on flow-map analyses, and the correlation of science knowledge networks in memory with science learning outcome variables such as level of conceptual thought, higher order thinking skills, and competence in inquiry-based laboratory experiences. Evidence of plasticity in improvement of knowledge networking ability is examined, and recommendations are presented for improvement of curricula to enhance scientific habits of mind through task-specific learning strategies intended to support increased student capacity to construct knowledge networks in memory and mobilize them to support higher order scientific thinking.


Keith S. Taber

Teaching about the ‘products’ of science – theories, models, concepts – has been informed over recent decades by an extensive research programme originating in studies of learners’ ideas in science. This ‘constructivist’ programme initially focused on the identification and characterisation of alternative conceptions. As the programme has progressed it has increasingly turned to exploring the origins and development of student thinking, and modelling student cognition in ways that can inform effective teaching of the target knowledge presented in the curriculum. In recent years there has been an increasing shift in the focus of science education from a preoccupation with teaching about ‘products’ to acknowledging that an understanding of the nature and processes of science – the provisional status of its claims; its forms of argumentation and means of producing public knowledge; and its relationship with society – is at least as significant in preparing young people for their place as consumers and voters in their own societies and as responsible global citizens in a finite world. This chapter discusses the potential of the constructivist programme to inform more effective teaching about the nature of science.

Erik Jan van Rossum and Rebecca Hamer

The Meaning of Learning and Knowing, co-authored by Erik Jan van Rossum and Rebecca Hamer, brings together empirical studies on epistemology, student thinking, teacher thinking, educational policy and staff development forging a solid and practical foundation for educational innovation. Since the 1980s they developed and published about a six-stage developmental model describing the qualitatively different ways students and teachers view learning and good teaching. A model with far reaching consequences for education, educational innovation and democratic society. Their comprehensive review of research from many disciplines underpins the empirical evidence of over 650 students and teachers. Each of the six worldviews results in a unique way of meaning making. These six Ways of Knowing, or Orders of Consciousness, are characterised by increasing complexity of thinking, with fourth level thinking—or self-authorship—representing the most common espoused goal of higher education. Ample evidence is presented that higher education is not attaining its own espoused goals. One explanation may be that many teachers in higher education have not themselves reached the minimum required way of knowing, preventing them from constructing a developmental path for their students. Van Rossum and Hamer’s epistemological model provides clear signposts on the developmental education highway and has proven its worth as an instrument for curriculum design, measurement of epistemological development and as a tool for staff development.

Scott D. Robinson

A Contemporary Autobiography of a Science Educator reminds readers that they teach who they are, and understanding who they are is fundamental for meaningful communication and effective classroom instruction. The book is for science educators, teacher educators, and others who wish to examine their own personal and professional identities in the social and cultural contexts in which their lives are embedded. Just as teaching can be viewed as relationship with others, this contemporary autobiography is situated on the significance of relationship with self. As a contemporary autobiography, the narrative reveals the author’s subjective truths while digging deeply into psychosocial motives of power and intimacy. The author reflects on his personal choices and career decisions that led him into and out of high school science teaching. The book contains stories and reflections from summer work camp experiences, undergraduate college days, teacher preparation episodes, and high school science teaching. Story themes are diversity and leadership, group identity and motivation, urban teaching and teacher preparation, and high school science teaching. These themes evolve out of nuclear episodes of the author’s storied life that brings present day understanding and meaning from past actions and interactions. This kind of critical introspection may hold special relevance for teachers, teacher educators, and others who wish to make their own identities salient and relevant to their own needs and interests as well as the needs and interests of students, teacher candidates, and clients whom they serve.