Epistemological norms and companion meanings in science classroom communication

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Abstract

In this paper, we describe two central epistemological norms related to the importance of making investigations and to scientific language and its logic. These norms have been identified in empirical material consisting of 200 video-recorded lessons in three different science classes. With regard to the learning of science and socialization, we discuss and problematize these norms in the context of science learned at school and the nature of science. A methodological approach has been developed and used to analyze and identify the role that teachers' actions play in which epistemology students adopt in their meaning making and to highlight which view of science this usage represents. The approach consists of a combination of three methodologies: practical epistemology analyses, epistemological move analyses, and analyses of companion meanings. This combination produces communication analysis of companion meanings. The theory is based on pragmatism, sociocultural approaches to learning, and the later works of Wittgenstein. The companion meanings described in the empirical material indicate that if students learn the identified norms without any explicit problematization, they will only view science as rational and inductive in character and exclude alternative views from the practice. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed93:859–874, 2009

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