10 SES 12 C, Autoethnography, Cognitive Engagement and Professional Identity
This study is an analytic autoethnography of one of the researchers. The paper involves a critical self-observation and reflexive investigation in the content of a graduate course about argumentation. the purpose of the course was to teach science teachers about the theory and practice of argumentation with the intention of integration of argumentation into science classrooms at primary and secondary schools.
Argumentation, as a general term, is an essential part of an interactive dialogue of two or more people reasoning together. Specifically for science, argumentation is an essential component in making scientific claims because in an argument one needs to introduce his/her idea as a consequence of evaluating alternatives and weighing evidences as scientists do. According to Kuhn (1993), argumentation is one of the discursive practices in scientific communities used to frame claims, weigh evidence, construct warrants, and discuss alternative explanations.
In recent years, argumentation has been receiving increasing attention in science education studies (e.g., Driver, Newton, & Osborne, 2000; Jiménez-Aleixandre, Rodríguez, & Duschl, 2000; Osborne, Erduran, & Simon, 2004). The studies imply that argumentation plays a vital role in science learning and it should be reinforced in science classrooms (Duschl & Osborne, 2002; Jiménez-Aleixandre, Rodríguez, & Duschl, 2000; Kelly, Druker, Chen, 1998), because students who are engaged in argumentation not only advance in the social construction of scientific knowledge but also learn the nature of scientific enterprise (Bell & Linn, 2000). However, a significant problem about argumentation in science classrooms is the need for a teacher to mediate the learning environment (Duschl, 2007; Erduran, Osborne, & Simon, 2005).
Teachers need to transform their pedagogy to integrate the argumentation practices in their science classes through continuous professional support. An important task, therefore, is to help teachers share the value of argumentation in teaching science, have a desire to change their current practices, have opportunities for action, share their experiences with a community of practice, reflect in order to understand the emerging patterns of change, extend their knowledge and experience about the argumentation in science; and finally have time to adjust to the changes made through a continuous professional support (Hoban, 2002).
While the course on argumentation was intended of providing such a professional development for teacher, I, as a researcher and a PhD candidate experienced theoretical shifts and changes in my values related to science education as well as argumentation in science education. This change in researcher's theoretical commitments and value systems should be considered as usual since as Packer (2011) states that "When we understand another person, we don’t merely find answers to our questions about them (let alone test our theories about them) but are challenged by our encounter with them. We learn, we are changed, we mature" (p. 5). Therefore, I wrote an auto ethnographical research to illustrate my learning process during this research.
The research questions guided this paper are
- What are my experiences as researcher in the graduate course designed to improve theoretical understanding and pedagogical practice in argumentation in science teaching?
- How my experiences as a researcher can be related with the wider cultural, social, educational meanings and understandings?
This paper is a part of a wider research agenda where I planned and implemented a graduate course on argumentation. In the wider research study, I positioned myself to act as a researcher and participant, and to observe myself as well as the participants (Schwartz-Shea & Yanow, 2012). Therefore, I felt the necessity to write an autoethnographical paper to illustrate my experiences during this research.In the following, analytic auto-ethnography as a research method and my role during research were explicated.
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