Journal of Research in Science Teaching

Cover image for Vol. 51 Issue 10

Edited By: Angela Calabrese Barton and Joseph Krajcik

Impact Factor: 3.02

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 6/219 (Education & Educational Research)

Online ISSN: 1098-2736

Call for Papers

Explorations of the Structure-Agency Dialectic as a Tool for Framing Equity in Science Education
Call for Papers
Guest Editors: Maria Varelas, John Settlage, and Felicia Moore Mensah
JRST Editor: Angela Calabrese Barton

Over the last 15 years, science education researchers have been progressively concerned with questions that seek to understand relationships between (a) learning of, engagement in, and access to science and (b) being and becoming in sociocultural worlds of classrooms, schools, free-choice learning environments, work settings, and everyday life. This research adopts various psychological, sociological, and/or anthropological perspectives and is inevitably concerned with two critical constructs, structure and agency, which are also deeply implicated in exploring issues of equity and social justice.

Some science education research has highlighted how, and the degree to which, structures (i.e., physical, material, symbolic, discursive, social, curricular, assessment, etc.) influence the learning and teaching of science and often contribute to inequities. Other science education research has highlighted agentic pathways that learners, teachers, administrators, community members take in various learning contexts that lead to empowering individuals and collectives to function, make sense, and thrive. However, the dialectical nature of structure and agency has not been adequately understood, and that is why it serves as the focus of this special issue. In what ways do structure and agency interact? What is their constitutive relationship like? And how does the structure-agency dialectic shape science education in and out of classrooms?

The structure-agency dialectic offers one tool to better understand complexities of social systems across multiple levels of activity. This may, in turn, enhance efforts to theorize about pedagogical approaches, curricula, and educational policies based on a nuanced understanding of structural affordances and hindrances vis-à-vis actors’ agency, choices, thoughts, and actions. Such endeavors are crucial to afford science opportunities to learners from historically marginalized communities (based on race, ethnicity, language, immigration status, gender, class, etc.) who are often positioned as “deficient.”

In this special issue, we plan to highlight scholarship that is based upon empirical data and offers important insights in the interplay of structural (in)equities and the agentic ways in which people (students, teachers, administrators, parents, and communities) develop to interact with science, make sense of the natural world, contribute to knowledge production, and position themselves relative to science. We seek studies that span topics, contexts, conceptual frameworks, and methodological approaches and engage with members of historically marginalized communities.

With this special issue, JRST will also explore the value and feasibility of shorter manuscripts that present succinctly theoretical constructs, identify essential elements of methodological approaches, offer major findings supported by the most compelling evidence, and outline implications for further theoretical, empirical, and practice-based work. Shorter manuscripts will allow for a larger anthology of studies that address the structure-agency dialectic and offer the science education field briefer research accounts that may serve as foundational readings for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers.

Timeline and Submission Guidelines
Manuscripts are due by September 1, 2014. Submissions will be reviewed in September and October and authors will be notified of the editorial decision by the end of October 2014. Authors of accepted manuscripts that require revisions will need to submit their final manuscripts by December 31, 2014. Anticipated publication date of the special issue is Spring 2015.

Manuscripts should be no more than 10 single-spaced pages conforming to all other submission guidelines for the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to ScholarOne Manuscripts. Select “Special Issue” option in Step 1 of the submission process, and identify the special theme title as “Science Education and the Structure-Agency Dialectic” in Step 4. Inquiries concerning the suitability of possible contributions to this special issue should be sent via e-mail directly to: Maria Varelas (