Relating Research to Practice has identified a limited set of Hot Topics representing pressing issues facing the ISE field. Download synthesis papers or browse research briefs related to these topics.





All research briefs tagged to Interest, Identity, Culture, and Learning
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Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 111–127.

A growing body of research explores the ways that science learning experiences can develop people’s interest in science. In this article, the researchers provide a framework for conceptualizing interest in four phases: triggered situational interest; maintained situational interest; emerging individual interest; and well-developed individual interest. They claim that interest is often conceptualized as a characteristic that a person either has or doesn’t have and that educators could benefit from thinking more about how to stimulate interest. This paper has a review of the literature on interest, as well as an examination of alternative models of interest.


Esmonde, I. (2009). Mathematics learning in groups: Analyzing equity in two cooperative activity structures. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 18(2), 247–284.

This article discusses the design and conditions of high school mathematics activities that aim to distribute opportunities to learn to all students. Of particular interest to ISE educators is the analysis of how some ostensibly equitable group activities may shut down equal participation. Also of interest is the theoretical discussion of the relationship between opportunities to productively participate in mathematical activities and the development of positive mathematical learning identities.


Nasir, N. S., & McKinney de Royston, M. (2013). Power, identity, and mathematical practices outside and inside school. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(1), 264–287.

This article discusses intellectual activities in African American culture that privilege mathematical thinking. The mathematical thinking in these activities is often not valued in the classroom. The authors argue for a shift from a deficit view of the cultural activities of non-dominant groups to an additive perspective that values the cultural wealth of these groups and uses that wealth to support student identity and learning.


Emdin, C. (2011). Dimensions of communication in urban science education interactions and transactions. Science Education, 95(1), 1–20.

This study is relevant to educators seeking to expand science practices and discourse in their programs for youth. The author finds that a lack of understanding of everyday communication patterns of African-American students leads many science teachers to shut down students just as they are beginning to express interest and active involvement in the science classroom. The result may be orderly looking classrooms, but the youth have in fact “checked out” and are merely following procedures. This paper presents a framework for analyzing various levels of authentic involvement in the science classroom, and is an important resource for ISE educators seeking to engage urban youth in structured science education programs.


Ehrlén, K. (2009). Drawings as representations of children’s conceptions. International Journal of Science Education, 31(1), 41–57.

Children’s drawings are often used by researchers as an indication of their conceptual understanding. But, to what extent is this approach valid? Do such drawings offer real insight, or are they simply clichéd representations produced by the children? In this study of children’s conception of ‘Earth,’ the researcher concludes that drawings have value only if they are used in conjunction with the children’s own narrative explanation of their drawing.


Swanson, L. H., Bianchini, J. A., & & Lee, J. S. (2014). Engaging in argument and communicating information: A case study of English language learners and their science teacher in an urban high school. Journal for Research in Science Teaching, 51(1), 31–64. doi:10.1002/tea.21124

In this study, the researchers investigated opportunities and challenges English language learners (ELLs) faced while learning the scientific practices of argumentation and communication of findings (NGSS practices 7 and 8; NGSS Lead States, 2013). Specifically, they asked how the teacher engaged ELLs in argumentation and communication and how the ELLs actually used these practices.


Malone, K. R., & Barabino, G. (2009). Narrations of race in STEM research settings: Identity formation and its discontents. Science Education, 93(3), 485–510.

This study investigates specific challenges that students of color have in developing a personal identity related to science. The researchers examined how experiences in graduate school programs shaped the emergent identities of African-American women students in science and engineering. The study sheds light on the barriers cultural minority students might face in their pursuit of science in school and in careers, and suggests that educators might help to prepare students for these experiences.


Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., Wong, B. (2010). “Doing” science versus “being” a scientist: Examining 10/11-year-old schoolchildren’s construction of science through the lens of identity. Science Education, 94(4), 617–639.

Research shows that between ages 10 and 14, children’s interest in science declines sharply. This study investigates 10- and 11-year-old children’s attitudes toward science and relates it to identity, finding that children show a preference for either school (“safe”) science or what they see as grown-up (“dangerous”) science.


Sadeh, I. & Zion, M. (2009). The development of dynamic inquiry performances within an open inquiry setting: A comparison to guided inquiry setting. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46, 1137–1160.

In this study, researchers compared two different forms of inquiry, guided and open. The authors found that open inquiry was more effective than guided inquiry in building students' understanding about scientific procedures. For example, students engaged in open inquiry gained insights into the ways that scientists need to adjust their studies as new information or problems arise. The findings of this research will be of interest to ISE educators who are integrating inquiry-based instruction into their programs.


Yasri, P., & Mancy, R. (2014). Understanding student approaches to learning evolution in the context of their perceptions of the relationship between science and religion. International Journal of Science Education, 36(1), 24–45. doi:10.1080/09500693.2012.715315

Students with strong religious views may adopt a variety of positions on the scientific concept of evolution. The attempts students make to address potential mismatches between their religious and scientific viewpoints influence their learning approaches. This Yasri and Mancy paper presents five ways in which young people reconcile evolution and religion,and discusses the implications for educators.




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