Results for Theory
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Kind, V. (2009). Pedagogical content knowledge in science education: Perspectives and potential for progress. Studies in Science Education, 45(2), 169–204.

Debate surrounding the definition of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) has limited its use in guiding teacher practice and teacher education. To help trainees acquire the unique skills of expert teachers in translating content for learners, this paper argues that an explicit focus on PCK (rather than an emphasis on subject matter knowledge) is needed.


Oliver, M. (2011). Towards an understanding of neuroscience for science educators. Studies in Science Education, 47(2), 211–235.

In this review, Oliver calls for greater cross-pollination between neuroscience research and educational practice. She argues that a richer understanding of the brain can dispel educational myths—and indeed uses research data in this paper to do so. She explores ways in which brain science can not only inform emerging theories of learning and teaching but also inspire effective educational interventions.


DiGironimo, N. (2011). What is technology? Investigating student conceptions about the nature of technology. International Journal of Science Education, 33(10), 1337–1352.

A good understanding of the nature of technology arguably facilitates learners’ participation in a technology-rich, information-driven society. To support students’ engagement and assess their understanding, educators need a functional definition of technology. This paper offers a definition with a related framework for examining students’ understanding.


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.


Nemirovsky, R. (2011). Episodic feelings and transfer of learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(2), 308–337.

How does a past learning experience get integrated into a present moment? How does a memory make individuals feel about what they are learning now—and then remember it? The influence of a past event or memory can significantly affect the learning going on in a present moment. In this paper presenting a theory of transfer, Nemirovsky argues that past emotions, past physical movements, and cognitive memories—which he calls collectively "episodic feelings"—are evoked in a present moment and contribute to an individual’s learning.


Tytler, R., & Prain, V. (2010). A Framework for re-thinking learning in science from recent cognitive science perspectives. International Journal of Science Education, 32(15), 2055–2078.

This paper presents the findings from a longitudinal study (over 7 years) of primary pupils' learning and understanding of evaporation. The authors focus on the role of context, narratives, and the students' representations to explain the developments in understanding, offering an alternative to traditional conceptual change perspectives.


White, T., & Pea, R. (2011). “Distributed by design: On the promises and pitfalls of collaborative learning with multiple representations.” Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(3), 489–547. doi:10.1080/10508406.2010.542700.

This article provides firm evidence, for formal and informal educators alike, that shared learning can be powerful and meaningful, if carefully considered. Findings from a study conducted in a summer middle school mathematics class suggest that when students are able to ask legitimate, authentic questions and share understanding about a common problem, their learning becomes truly “distributed by design.”


Vadeboncoeur, J. A. (2006). Engaging young people: Learning in informal contexts. Review of Research in Education, 30, 239–278.

This 2006 paper reviews the ways in which structured informal learning programs for youth have been characterized in the research literature. The paper synthesizes opportunities for and challenges to research in this domain; it categorizes programs and gives concrete examples of various program types. A proposed Vygotskian research framework is organized around key dimensions of the informal learning context, including location, relationships, content, pedagogy, and assessment.


Bang, M., & Medin, D. (2010). Cultural processes in science education: Supporting the navigation of multiple epistemologies. Science Education, 94(6), 1009–1026.

In this study, the authors describe a conceptual framework addressing culturally based ways of knowing, and provide a brief description of their efforts to design a community-based summer science program with a Native American tribe using this framework. To address the call to attract culturally diverse students to STEM fields, the authors advocate supporting students in their navigation of multiple and perhaps conflicting epistemologies, and using the student community as resources to be built upon, rather than pushing them toward replacing their personal epistemologies with canonical scientific ones. The authors, in addition to giving an example of the development of a summer camp curriculum, provide examples of how they drew on Native students’ knowledge and community practices to impact student learning.


Hedegaard, M. (2010). Children's development from a cultural-historical approach: Children's activity in everyday local settings as foundation for their development. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 16(1), 64–81.

In this paper the author proposes a theory of development that integrates society, institutional practice and the child's activity. The goal is to inform efforts to create more developmentally supportive settings and opportunities for children. The proposed theory focuses on the everyday practices of children that take place in specific institutional settings (e.g., schools, afterschools, families) reflecting dominant cultural-societal views and arrangements. The paper provides a theoretical lens that could be of interest to educators who are seeking to understand how the particular affordances of the ISE setting can support children's development of interests and motives, especially with respect to science learning. The theory and the paper themselves are not specific to science.