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Keywords:

  • general science;
  • laboratory science;
  • discourse analysis;
  • Nature of Science (NOS);
  • secondary;
  • ethnography

Abstract

This study investigates the interaction between four pairs of high school students in a 7-week national research apprenticeship program. Each student was interviewed about perceptions of experiences working with a peer in the same setting, and the resulting stories were analyzed. Through discourse analysis of the interviews and interrelated analyses of data from journals and responses on pre- and postprogram questionnaires, three types of support were identified that students experienced to varying degrees: social–emotional, social–technical, and social–cognitive. It is concluded that social–cognitive support is best engendered if there is sufficient similarity of problems and processes, and ample room for different results and debate about interpretation. Additionally, the culture and reward system students work within (i.e., classrooms) must encourage discussion of ideas and value an outsider's perspective, in recognition of the roles creativity, uncertainty, and ambiguity play in science. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 45: 251–271, 2008.