Cultural Historical Approach to Thinking
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Research on Scientific and Technological Literacy

This research is associated to the CRYSTAL project at the University of Victoria. Science education reforms in Canada parallel those that occur internationally in their attempt to promote science literacy for all students: All students of race, gender, cultural heritage or socioeconomic status should be able to participate in the ongoing public debates about issues in science, technology, and society and environment (STSE) salient in a technology-oriented global economy. Scientific and technological literacy involves the abilities, critical thinking, and habits of mind necessary for understanding a discipline; it also involves communicative abilities to inform or persuade others about scientific and technical matters and to take action on related issues; and it involves an understanding of the unifying concepts of a discipline.

The first two dimensions are the fundamental sense of science; the third dimension is a derived sense of scientific and technological literacy. The anticipated level for all students to participate in public debates needs to reflect standards that are achievable by a wide range of people and that reflect a high degree of relevance enticing many citizens to actively participate in issues that concern an increasingly complex society. First, an increasing part of the population wants and ought to participate in STSE-related decision-making processes without having to study science at the university. Second, the steadily expanding scientific and technological knowledge requires experts who can bring special and specialized expertise into the decision-making forums. As central unifying of the Pacific Centre for Research in Youth, Science Teaching and Learning (Pacific CRYSTAL) is the exploration and documentation of both forms of scientific and technological literacy: One general, attainable by all, and one geared to prepare those pursuing scientific and technological careers to become experts in a related field.

Our work at Chat@UVic contributes to Pacific CRYSTAL by extending its current expertise and exploring new initiatives in the following directions: The crossing boundaries between school and workplace; research on environmental education and field trips; cogenerative dialogue and coteaching in elementary school setting; students' ideas of the nature of science and science careers as derived from authentic science experiences; and the development of scientific literacy through the use of IT-based research tools.

Field Trips Our part of this research aims at understanding what and how students learn when they are engaged in activities performed at non-formal settings such as field trips, and how these activities are different from the ones performed at a formal school setting. The context for this research is the Strawberry Vale School, which is the first lighthouse school of the CRYSTAL project. Based on an ethnographic case study, we are observing 25 students from grade 6 when they go out on field trips. We aim to understand the importance of field trips to learn science, from the unique perspective of the students participating in these activities. Using student-produced digital movies as a metacognitive tool to assess non-formal activities, we also analyze students' interactions during field trips. See abstract here

Internship in Science Laboratories The objective of our research is to investigate on the relationship of high school students and authentic science opportunities. An ethnographic observation is developed in high school science classes and in university laboratories. We are interested in the ways in which the activities of scientists are discursively presented to students in the classroom. See abstract here In terms of internship in science laboratories, how scientists/technicians "teach" high school students and how students "learn" in the informal setting and scientific laboratories, are both main interests in our research. See abstract here One of our studies in this project aims at understanding high school students' career aspirations, especially science related ones. We draw on a mapping activity during interviews and on discourse analysis to identify the repertoires drawn on by students to articulate their career choices and their identities in science fields. See abstract here

Cogenerative dialogues Our research on cogenerative dialogues focuses on issues of ethics and responsibility, both in terms of research and teaching. See abstract here The relationship between researcher and participant is one that varies from extremes of disassociation to full inclusion. In light of our responsibility to each other as beings, we look at education research as vital to the development of teachers and students, and as a field full of general ethical questions. See abstract here The cogenerative dialogue is a meeting with students, teachers, researchers, etc. to discuss shared events in the classroom and generate equitable solutions. In terms of educational research, the cogenerative dialogue encourages open discussion of practices, opinions, and backgrounds by students and teachers, and allows them, as researchers, to understand the worlds in which they live. See abstract here

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Contact Us: Chat@UVic, MacLaurin Building, A420. University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada. V8W3N4. Tel:(250)721-7834 Fax:(250)721-7598