Science education is reasonably constructed around a vision of authentic scientific practices. Yet, this vision of science is clearly a construct as seen when viewing its changes throughout the last 120 years, as well as viewing it through different theoretical perspectives. While there are diverse descriptions of science and its enactment, going back to Dewey and Peirce, the mission of science is commonly considered to be about the advancement of theory through inquiry where problems serve a central function. Beyond the challenge of constructing an understanding of scientific inquiry as theory development where the diversity in perspectives of scientists is seen as essential, there is the challenge of devising pedagogy and approaches that effectively promote this vision. There are a rich mix of approaches working at solving different parts of this complex problem. One such approach is called, "knowledge building" (Scardamalia and Bereiter, 2006). This approach seeks to scaffold classroom communities such that they develop and grow into a complex community where progressive science-theory improvement emerges. It is considered that these sorts of communities where innovation is the norm have relevance beyond the fields of science and STEM: innovation and knowledge creation is becoming the essential practice of the knowledge age. The knowledge building approach is designed to support the growth of classroom communities that embody the essential nature of progressive scientific inquiry. To effectively support this kind of classroom community development, the unique assets and needs presented by the ever-increasing diversity of thinking and knowing that are emergents of the students' cultures, developmental levels, neurological diversities and iv networks of communities. Overall, this research sought to support and augment classrooms as they strive to grow into classroom communities of scientific inquiry. The research occurred in two stages. It first used philosophical methods to generate a simple, high-level model of problem-solving made possible by Popper's World-3 conception. This conception is a keystone in some epistemologies developed to support approaches aimed at helping students grow in knowledge-innovation practices. The visual problem-solving model that was developed seeks to provide students and teachers with a very simple yet flexible model allowing them to describe, analyze and reflect on the state of their community's knowledge improvement and through this understanding adaptively and effectively respond. The second stage of research utilized hybrid philosophical-empirical methods to develop a framework that describes science in terms of its mission to progressively improve theory through the iterative solving of and subsequent unfolding of new knowledge-problems. These research methods involved an iterative process where promising theories are tested on their ability to describe students' actual online knowledge-building discourse in a satisfying way. In this iterative process, empirical classroom data informed and yet also constrain the theory generation which was informed by diverse theoretical perspectives. These theoretical perspectives included for example, ideas of scientific practices, theories of design such as design thinking and understandings of classroom diversity as represented in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) which were intentionally founded upon theories of v culturally responsive pedagogy. The developed framework seeks to scaffold teachers as they design and enact lessons aimed at growing communities of diverse scientists. Taken together, the products of this research seek to provide conceptual structures to aid the students and teachers in classroom communities as they seek to grow into complex communities of scientists.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2019. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Gillian Roehrig. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 191 pages.
The Knowledge Building Approach to Science Education: A Problem-Solving Perspective.
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