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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Fostering Scientific Habits of Mind

Pedagogical Knowledge and Best Practices in Science Education

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Edited by Issa M. Saleh and Myint Swe Khine

The history of human development records the courageous efforts made by the generation of teacher educators to train the school leaders who are responsible to implement educational policies. They have endured the burden and challenges of the times and refine the pedagogies and education systems with many innovative approaches. As the world faces increasing uncertainties and shift to knowledge economy, education plays a larger role in creating productive persons. Designing and managing learning school organizations that can sustain a competitive advantage in this fast-changing environment demands transformative leaders who would envision building intellectual capital for the future. Many books on teacher education, educational management and leadership exist in the past. But most books do not keep up with the fast-changing educational scene and only a few include future scenarios. This book presents anticipated trends and demands of the new knowledge economy, achieving goals with the use of various tools, generative and collaborative efforts, increasing leadership capability in dynamic and complex contexts, enculturation of cutting edge knowledge for educational advancement and creation of teams that focus learning organizations.
The book brings together prominent and leading teacher educators and researchers from around the world to present their scholarship, theories and practice, case studies, state-of-the- art approaches and future-oriented predictions. This book embodies collective knowledge inquiry and represents professional conversations. The chapters provides information on recent trends and development in teacher education, the important role of educational management and leadership in educational transformations, promising practices for desired outcomes. The book is a critical and specialized resource that describes how transformative leadership can play an important role in achieving excellence in education. The topics are covered in the book are: educational leadership and effective teaching, research in transformational leadership, and professional development and social capital building in schools.

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Jose P. Mestre, Brian H. Ross, David T. Brookes, Adam D. Smith and Timothy J. Nokes

Cognitive science research focuses on how the mind works, including topics such as thinking, problem solving, learning and transfer. Much of this research remains unknown in science education circles, yet is relevant for the design of instructional strategies in the sciences. We outline some difficulties in learning science, along with a discussion of some relevant cognitive science research. We then present a cognitive science-based intervention in physics education aimed at promoting conceptual understanding within a problem solving context. In addition, we present assessments of problem solving and conceptual understanding to better examine the differences between knowledge learned from this approach compared to traditional instruction. Finally, we present some pilot data on an initial implementation of the approach.

Considerations on Technology-Mediated Narrative Learning Environments

An Analysis of Some of their Narrative and Educational Qualities

Carola Conle

This paper consists in a commentary of several environments presented in this book. The framework for this analysis is a matrix developed by the author that consists of Schwab’s commonplaces of curriculum, namely “teacher,” “student,” “subject matter” and “milieu”, together with the concepts of “narrative statement,” “story” and “act of narrating” that Genette considers as the factes of narrative.