27 SES 06 C, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
There is a current debate in science education on what it might mean to educate scientifically literate citizens and the possibilities of actually educating students to become “competent outsiders with respect to science” (Feinstein, 2011). One aspect of scientific literacy, which has been underscored but not sufficiently scrutinized in relation to educating “competent outsiders”, concerns the issue of becoming capable “…to evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used to generate it”. (National Science Education Standards, 1996, p. 22). The aim of this study is to explore conditions for promoting students' abilities to engage in critical discussion in relation to science inquiry in primary science education.
In science education, on a policy level, inquiry has been attributed great promise as an instructional approach. It has been identified as a ‘key-approach’ to primary science education (Harlen, 2009; Lena, 2009), and recommended as the 'renewed pedagogy for the future of Europe' (European commission, 2007). Today, inquiry is found in curricula world-wide (Beeth et al., 2003). As educational practices, IBSE practices are inherently hybrid: products, ideas and methods of science are transformed into educational content and classroom tasks (Andrée, 2007). The aims of inquiry based science education (IBSE) are, multi-facetted involving IBSE as a method for a) making science more interesting, b) illustrating scientific concepts and c) learning about inquiry as a way of doing science. From previous studies of inquiry and practical work in science education at various levels, we know that students' work in classrooms/school laboratories cannot be equated with the work of scientists even when students follow what appears to be similar procedure (e.g. Wickman & Östman, 2002). Studies specifically focusing on learning about inquiry show that an explicit focus on teaching about the characteristics of scientific inquiry is unusual (Lager-Nyqvist, 2003; Gyllenpalm, 2010). Also, teachers do not regard learning about inquiry as equally important as traditional science subject matter (Lederman, 2007). In addition to this, teachers have rarely experienced authentic inquiry themselves (Windshitl, 2002).
Developing an inquiry literacy involves appropriation of a particular social language for critically analysing, evaluating and judging scientific investigations and conclusions (cf. Lemke, 1993). A challenge in a Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) perspective (cf. Engeström, 2001; Leontiev, 1986; Roth, Lee & Hsu, 2009) becomes to engage students in an activity that allows them to make use of relevant intellectual tools for discussing scientific investigations. This also relates to the issue of authenticity and how to create some resemblance between what students do in school science and what happens in science laboratories (Roth, Eijck, Reis & Hsu, 2008).
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