`I'm a consumer, I'm not a scientist': Cultivating Student Domain Identification, Agency, and Affect through Engagement in Scientific Practices
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University of Washington Abstract `I'm a consumer, I'm not a scientist': Cultivating Student Domain Identification, Agency, and Affect through Engagement in Scientific Practices Giovanna Scalone Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Philip Bell College of Education, Learning Sciences and Human Development This study investigates the potential benefits of redesigning hands-on, commercial inquiry science kits for fifth grade that afford agency and the development of science identities by leveraging youth's interests, personal or shared concerns, challenges or desires. Science identification is considered in relation to learning processes of being, becoming, knowing and doing. As identities are constructed dialogically through engagement, emotion, intentionality, innovation, and solidarity, students' agency is mediated and conceptualized as it develops in practice. The study is introduced in Chapter 1 by acknowledging how agency and identity are constructed from an ideological frame, thus problematizing the current neo-liberal policies undergirding educational reform. The conceptual argument in Chapter 2 outlines a theoretical synthesis of agency and learning. Subsequently, I leveraged a theory of semiosis to highlight how these perspectives on agency and identity contribute to the meaning-making processes of language, culture, and mind. Finally, conceptualizations of agency and identity are mapped to the sociology of scientific knowledge perspective. Chapter 3 situates the study context within a design-based implementation research model where the existing science curriculum units serve as comparisons (Inquiry group) to the experimental units (Agency group). The findings first demonstrate how student and teacher positioning are revealed during the turns of exchange by using functional grammar as a method to analyze how discourse works to construe experience and enact social relationships. Secondly, I analyze youth positioning across conditions highlighting the importance of raising student consciousness to the variegated ways scientists practice science and inducts students into how scientists intentionally and purposefully employ genres to engage in scientific ways of communicating. Student's perspectives, positioning, and emotional investments are then analyzed using appraisal analysis to show how students talking about their images of science yield different ways of knowing and dispositions in science. Thirdly, by tracing the inclination and obligation of doing science, I illustrate how subjectivity versus materiality/objectivity in science impact how students perceive science. Fourth, student images of science, ways of identifying with science and having agency in science are analyzed using a thematic analysis to identify patterns and emerging themes. Next, I assess students' developing understanding of scientific inquiry using HLM to determine whether the Agency units versus the Inquiry units predicted students' learning outcomes based on the inquiry assessment. Finally, I discuss the implications of these analyses. This study accounts for how youth develop practice-linked identities in science entails the fleeting identity performances and language choices made for and by youth in the science classroom. Central to this notion of identity is agency where positionality as well as material and symbolic, interactional and situational resources constrain or enable identity development. In a learning context, these choices and values inherent in language use are relational to learner agency outside of language, but ensouled in performative curating where solidarity, intention, creativity, emotion, accountability, anticipation, cognition, and rewards enable the capacity to transform the self, others, and communities. This dissertation demonstrates how design features embedded in curriculum related to personal relevance and the societal context for science affords teachers to engage youth in agentic science learning in the classroom in ways that become more meaningful and supportive of science identification than traditional inquiry approaches to teaching science.
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