Jakobsson, A., Mäkitalo, Å. & Säljö, R. (2009). Conceptions of knowledge in research on students' understanding of the greenhouse effect. Science Education, 93(6), 978–995.
This study suggests that the assessment of students’ understanding of scientific vocabulary, concepts, and reasoning associated with the greenhouse effect may be better accomplished by observing and understanding learners’ developing language use over time. The indication of previous research that students hold tenacious misconceptions may be an artifact of the questionnaires used. The authors argue that listening to student conversations is the key to better recognize learning. This paper can help ISE educators think more deeply about how and when to assess for student understanding, including considering most appropriate and informative methods.
Van Eijck, M. & Roth, W.-M. (2009). Authentic science experiences as a vehicle to change students’ orientations toward science and scientific career choices: Learning from the path followed by Brad. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4, 611–638.
This study aims to answer two questions important to informal science learning: What is “authentic”? And, why do we want students to have authentic science learning experiences? Using ethnographic methods, the authors developed a case study over the course of one year of an Aboriginal student, Brad, who participated in a scientific internship program that included both nature conservation and laboratory work. This study analyzes how Brad’s cultural identity interacted, influenced, and hybridized with the scientific and other practices he participated in during his internship. The paper will be of interest to ISE educators exploring how program experiences interact with identity to encourage expanded participation in STEM.
Mulder, Y. G., Lazonder, A. W., & de Jong, T. (2010). Finding out how they find it out: An empirical analysis of inquiry learners’ need for support. International Journal of Science Education, 32(15), 2033–2053.
A study contrasting scientific reasoning skills of students with limited knowledge of the domain against more expert groups found little difference in nature of hypothesising and experimentation, but their lack of domain knowledge hindered non-experts' abilities to develop and test models. Findings highlight the need for support to understand models and organize knowledge.
Scharfenberg, F.-J. & Bogner, F. X. (2010). Instructional efficiency of changing cognitive load in an out-of-school laboratory. International Journal of Science Education, 32(6), 829–844.
The authors claim that if the students are given an overdose of information, their memories become ‘overloaded’; for example, engaging in an activity in a professional science laboratory. To counter this negative impact, the study here suggests ways to lessen the ‘cognitive overload’ and inform instructional design.
Rosebery, A. S., Ogonowski, M., DiSchino, M., & Warren, B. (2010). "The coat traps all your body heat": Heterogeneity as fundamental to learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(3), 322–357.
This study makes the case for the ways in which children's everyday experiences are foundational to learning science. The authors argue for the importance of instruction that capitalizes on the diverse experiences and ways of thinking that children bring to the classroom. The article has implications for the design of learning activities in informal settings, where, in the absence of testing pressures, educators might be more free to engage children in "science talk" to support deeper meaning-making.
Hsu, P. L., van Eijck, M., & Roth, W. M. (2010). Students' representations of scientific practice during a science internship: Reflections from an activity-theoretic perspective. International Journal of Science Education, 32(9), 1243–1266.
In this study, students who participated in science internships were found to gain a better understanding of authentic science but did not have complete representations of scientific practice. Students' communication within presentations was seen to be mediated by the audience they were presenting to and what they perceived to be important. Consequently, students reported stereotypical images of science. This paper might be of interest to ISE educators developing lab and internship programs for students.
Johnston, J. S. (2009). What does the skill of observation look like in young children? International Journal of Science Education, 31(18), 2511–2525.
Observation is a key skill in science. It is also an important initial skill in early learning. In this paper, Johnston examines the skill of observation in 56 children (4–11 years), asks how it influences other skills in science, and considers how it may be supported. The paper draws attention to that fact that in recent years primary science education has been about the acquisition of conceptual knowledge rather than key skills, and that this balance may not be justified. Of further interest to ISE practitioners is Johnston’s comments that contexts where children can observe natural phenomena, especially animals, have been found to produce positive effects on the development of children’s language, social skills, and attitudes.
Jones, G., Taylor, A. & Forrester, J. H. (2011). Developing a scientist: A retrospective look. International Journal of Science Education, 33(12), 1653–1673.
This paper reports on a study examining the reflections of 37 scientists and engineers regarding significant experiences in childhood that may have influenced their career choices. Commonalities across the responses include motivational teachers, informal advising and mentoring from family members and teachers, opportunities to tinker and build models and independent explorations of science both in and out of school.
Feinstein, N. (2011). Salvaging science literacy. Science Education, 95(1), 168–185.
The value of science literacy is often taken for granted on the grounds that some understanding of science is useful for all students, not just those who will become scientists. In this paper, the author considers whether science literacy, as traditionally imagined, is actually useful. The paper includes a summary of current perspectives on science literacy, all of which, he argues, aim to produce marginal insiders: people who have had a glimpse of science content and process but no sense of how to connect science with their everyday lives. The author argues for a new perspective on science literacy that integrates research on “public engagement with science” with research on science education. According to this new perspective, school, agencies, and ISEs should help people become competent outsiders with respect to science: people who recognize when science is relevant to their lives and can interact with sources of scientific expertise to help them achieve their own goals.
Brown, B.A., Ryoo, K. & Rodriguez. J. (2010). Pathway towards fluency: Using ‘disaggregate instruction’ to promote science literacy. International Journal of Science Education, 32(11), 1465–1493.
The premise underpinning this study is that a learner’s ability to describe and engage conceptually with scientific phenomena is dependent upon his or her ability to understand and use scientific language. The authors thus argue that teaching and learning of science should be divided into conceptual and discursive components, an approach they call ‘disaggregate instruction.’ The authors found that students taught in this manner outperformed those taught traditionally. The authors highlight the impact of this finding for all educators, and note that it may be particularly significant for educators working with diverse learner populations.