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From scientific practice to high school science classrooms: Transfer of scientific technologies and realizations of authentic inquiry


  • Noemi Waight,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Learning and Instruction, University at Buffalo, 513 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260
    • Department of Learning and Instruction, University at Buffalo, 513 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260.
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  • Fouad Abd-El-Khalick

    1. Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
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The Biology Workbench (BW) is a web-based tool enabling scientists to search a wide array of protein and nucleic acid sequence databases with integrated access to a variety of analysis and modeling tools. The present study examined the development of this scientific tool and its consequent adoption into the context of high school science teaching in the form of the Biology Student Workbench (BSW). Participants included scientists, programmers, science educators, and science teachers who played key roles along the pathway of the design and development of BW, and/or the adaptation and implementation of BSW in high school science classrooms. Participants also included four teachers who, with their students, continue to use BSW. Data sources included interviews, classroom observations, and relevant artifacts. Contrary to what often is advocated as a major benefit accruing from the integration of authentic scientific tools into precollege science teaching, classroom enactments of BSW lacked elements of inquiry and were teacher-centered with prescribed convergent activities. Students mostly were preoccupied with following instructions and a focus on science content. The desired and actual realizations of BSW fell on two extremes that reflected the disparity between scientists' and educators' views on science, inquiry science teaching, and the related roles of technological tools. Research on large-scale adoptions of technological tools into precollege science classrooms needs to expand beyond its current focus on teacher knowledge, skills, beliefs, and practices to examine the role of the scientists, researchers, and teacher educators who often are involved in such adoptions. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 48: 37–70, 2011