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Camila, the earth, and the sun: Constructing an idea as shared intellectual property

Authors

  • Josh Radinsky,

    Corresponding author
    1. Learning Sciences Research Institute and College of Education (Department of Curriculum & Instruction), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1040 W. Harrison M/C 147, Chicago, Illinois, 60607
    • Learning Sciences Research Institute and College of Education (Department of Curriculum & Instruction), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1040 W. Harrison M/C 147, Chicago, Illinois, 60607.
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  • Sonia Oliva,

    1. Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
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  • Kimberly Alamar

    1. Whittier Teacher Inquiry Group, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois
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Abstract

Recent research has challenged traditional assumptions that scientific practice and knowledge are essentially individual accomplishments, highlighting instead the social nature of scientific practices, and the co-construction of scientific knowledge. Similarly, new research paradigms for studying learning go beyond focusing on what is “in the head” of individual students, to study collective practices, distributed cognition, and emergent understandings of groups. These developments require new tools for assessing what it means to learn to “think like a scientist.” Toward this goal, the present case study analyzes the discourse of a 6th-grade class discussing one student's explanation for seasonal variations in daylight hours. The analysis identifies discourse moves that map to disciplinary practices of the social construction of science knowledge, including (1) beginning an explanation by reviewing the community's shared assumptions; (2) referencing peers' work as warrants for an argument; and (3) building from isolated ideas, attributed to individuals, toward a coherent situation model, attributed to the community. The study then identifies discourse moves through which the proposed explanation was taken up and developed by the group, including (4) using multiple shared representations; (5) leveraging peers' language to clarify ideas; and (6) negotiating language and representations for new, shared explanations. Implications of this case for rethinking instruction, assessment, and classroom research are explored. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47:619–642, 2010

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