Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Driver, R., Asoko, H., Leach, J., Mortimer, E., & Scott, P. (1994). Constructing scientific knowledge in the classroom. Educational Researcher, 23 (7), 5-12.

Underpinning contemporary perspectives on science education is the view that knowledge cannot be transmitted but must be constructed by the mental activity of learners. This article presents a theoretical perspective on teaching and learning science in the social setting of classrooms. The authors compare the view of science learning as an individual activity to the view of science learning as the social construction of knowledge. They conclude that learning science involves both personal and social processes. They argue that it is important for science educators to appreciate that scientific knowledge is socially constructed and validated. Learning science thus involves being initiated into scientific ways of knowing. Students need appropriate experiences and access to the cultural tools and conventions of the science community. Science views may be in conflict with the learner's prior knowledge schemes, and this presents a challenge for teachers. Negotiation and scaffolding are two discursive practices that support knowledge construction in classrooms. Episodes from science classrooms are presented to illustrate the development of personal meaning in the social context of the classroom. The authors conclude with the image of the teacher as "the often hard-pressed tour guide mediating between children's everyday world and the world of science."

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