Scaffolding Student Learning in the Discipline-Specific Knowledge through Contemporary Science Practices: Developing High-School Students’ Epidemiologic Reasoning through Data Analysis
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Science is a disciplined practice about knowing puzzling observations and unknown phenomena. Scientific knowledge of the product is applied to develop technological artifacts and solve complex problems in society. Scientific practices are undeniably relevant to our economy, civic activity, and personal lives, and thus public education should help children acquire scientific knowledge and recognize the values in relation to their own lives and civil society. Likewise, developing scientific thinking skills is valuable not only for becoming a scientist, but also for becoming a citizen who is able to critically evaluate everyday information, select and apply only the trustworthy, and make wise judgments in their personal and cultural goals as well as for obtaining jobs that require complex problem solving and creative working in the current knowledge-based economy and rapid-changing world. To develop students’ scientific thinking, science instruction should focus not only on scientific knowledge and inquiry processes, but also on its epistemological aspects including the forms of causal explanations and methodological choices along with epistemic aims and values under the social circumstances in focal practices. In this perspective, disciplinary knowledge involves heterogeneous elements including material, cognitive, social, and cultural ones and the formation differs across practices. Without developing such discipline-specific knowledge, students cannot enough deeply engage in scientific “practices” and understand the true values of scientific enterprises. In this interest, this dissertation explores instructional approaches to make student engagement in scientific investigations more authentic or disciplinary. The present dissertation work is comprised of three research questions as stand-alone studies written for separate publication. All of the studies discuss different theoretical aspects related to disciplinary engagement in epidemiologic inquiry and student development in epidemiologic reasoning. The first chapter reviews literature on epistemological instruction and explores theoretical frameworks for epistemically-guided instruction. The second chapter explores methodological strategies to elicit students’ disciplinary understanding and demonstrates an approach with a case study in which students engaged in a curriculum unit for an epidemiologic investigation. The last chapter directs the focus into scientific reasoning and demonstrates how the curriculum unit and its scaffolds helped students develop epidemiologic reasoning with a focus on population-based reasoning.
- Education - Seattle