Lawrence Erlbaum Book Prospectus


“Establishing Scientific Classroom Discourse Communities: Multiple Voices of Research on Teaching and Learning”




Proposal Outline_______________________________________________ 2

Table of Contents______________________________________________ 3

Issues Addressed in Each Chapter_________________________________ 4

Introduction  -- Framing the science education reform issues confronting teachers, students, teacher educators, and researchers.___________________________________ 4

Chapter 1-- A Linguistic Interpretation of Science Education Reform Challenges______ 5

Chapter 2 -- Essential Similarities and Differences Between Classroom and Scientific Communities__________________________________________________________ 6

Chapter 3 -- Designed Experimentation: Sociolinguistic implications for studying language minority science classrooms________________________________________ 7

Chapter 4 -- Obstacles in Re-negotiating Classroom Knowledge____________________ 8

Chapter 5 -- Explicit guidance or negotiated purpose?: The utility of common knowledge and existing classroom discourse toward alternative outcomes______________________ 8

Chapter 6 -- Curriculum and Teacher Knowledge Issues Associated with Transforming Classroom Discourse_____________________________________________________ 9

Chapter 7 -- Teaching science in urban high schools: When the rubber hits the road___ 10

Chapter 8 -- When the Classroom isn’t in School: The Construction of Scientific Knowledge in an After-School Setting______________________________________ 11

Chapter 9 -- Creating Places to Stand: Redefining Classrooms and Reformulating Science Talk________________________________________________________________ 12

Chapter 10 -- Multiple Literacies and School Science:  Supporting and learning from the participation of students with special needs______________ Error! Bookmark not defined.

Chapter 11 -- Implications for Science Teachers and Future Researchers in Evolving Contexts_____________________________________________________________ 13

Contributors_________________________________________________ 15

Proposal Outline


BOOK:               Establishing Scientific Classroom Communities: Multiple voices of teaching and learning research

EDITORS:          Randy Yerrick, San Diego State University and Wolff-Michael Roth, University of Victoria

PURPOSE:        The purpose of the proposed book is to provide 10 views on the questions of science discourse in schools. We propose the following structure and chronology to speak to the issue of reform:


GEE: A linguistic interpretation of science education reform challenges

BOWEN: Essential similarities and differences between classroom and scientific communities

BALLENGER: The sociolinguistic study of language minority science in classrooms: Implications for designed experimentation

YERRICK:   Obstacles in re-negotiating classroom knowledge

W.-M. ROTH: Explicit guidance or negotiated purpose?: The utility of common knowledge and existing classroom discourse toward alternative outcomes

VARELAS: Curriculum and teacher knowledge issues associated with transforming classroom talk

TOBIN: Teaching science in urban high schools:  When the rubber hits the road.

GALLEGO: When the classroom isn't in school:  The construction of scientific knowledge in an after-school setting.

K. ROTH: Creating places to stand: Redefining classrooms and reformulating science talk

Palincsar, A, Collins, K., &  magnusson, s.: Bridging the gap: A closer look at “science for all Americans” for students with special needs.

W –M. ROTH, YERRICK, and TOBIN: Implications for science teachers and future researchers in evolving contexts.


NATURE OF MS: Each article reports from a particular perspective on the roles of language in science learning

LENGTH OF MS: Each article will consist of a maximum of 30 pages Roman Times 12 pt (i.e. 10,000 words) plus additional pages for references and a small number of tables and figures. The introduction will be limited to about 2000 words. We propose the following time line:


PREPARATION: Within 14 weeks of go-ahead from LEA

REVIEW PROCESS: 6 weeks. The authors will each review 2 papers by other authors. One “external” review will be requested among the NARST membership with expertise in the area. The editors will review the entire set before submission.

REWRITING: 10 weeks



TOTAL TIME: 36 weeks (9 months)

Table of Contents



Randy Yerrick and W-M. Roth


A Linguistic Interpretation of Science Education Reform Challenges

James Gee


Essential Similarities and Differences Between Classroom and Scientific Communities

G. Michael Bowen


Designed Experimentation:
Sociolinguistic Implications for Studying Language Minority Science Classrooms

Cindy Ballenger


Obstacles in Re-negotiating Classroom Knowledge

Randy Yerrick


Explicit Guidance or Negotiated Purpose?:
The Utility of Common Knowledge and Existing Classroom Discourse toward Alternative Outcomes.

Wolff-Michael Roth


Curriculum and Teacher Knowledge Issues Associated with Transforming Classroom Talk

Maria Varelas


Teaching Science in Urban High Schools:
When the Rubber Hits the Road

Ken Tobin


When the Classroom isn’t in School:
The Construction of Scientific Knowledge in an After-School Setting.

Margaret Gallego


Creating Places to Stand: Redefining Classrooms for Multiple Gateways into Science

Kathy Roth


Multiple Literacies and School Science:  Supporting and learning from the participation of students with special needs

Annemarie Palincsar, Kathleen Collins, and Shirley Magnusson


Implications for Science Teachers and Future Researchers in Evolving Contexts.

W –M. Roth and Randy Yerrick


Issues Addressed in Each Chapter


Introduction  -- Framing the science education reform issues confronting teachers, students, teacher educators, and researchers.


      Our nation is confronted with a dilemma heretofore not experienced in the history of science education reform.  While past school reforms focussed upon the creation of exemplary curriculum, upgrading teacher knowledge, developing effective and transferable classroom management systems, and connecting teachers and students to both historically relevant and contemporary research findigs, today’s teachers find themselves in a tug-of-war between standards-based education and expectations that all students will succeed in science.  Historically, equity in science education had only remotely been addressed as an issue of knowledge access and gender. However, today’s reform rhetoric calls upon science teachers in all contexts to connect science curriculum to children’s lives in culturally, linguistically, sociologically significant ways.  We have yet to address as science educators where current or future teachers will obtain this kind of knowledge but education policy and legislation in many states falsely reflect that we are well equipped as teachers to teach in such ways and that researchers and state assessments could acutely recognize scientific lieteracy among all students. 

      This book endeavors to highlight the central issues of teaching and learning as they relate to an emerging body of cognition, ethnographic, and sociocultural research knowledge.  This chapter will introduce the reader to some of the landmarks of past science education reform as well as highlight reasons for departure from past reform efforts.  From this brief overview the reader will come to appreciate that part of the knowledge required for assessing our current status of science teaching and learning is the growing body of sociocultural evidence gathered by researchers in a variety of contexts testing today’s science education standards.  It is reflected in the contemporary research examining issues of curriculum revision, teacher pedagogy, cultural sensitivity, teacher professional development, and classroom change.  Some of these issues include:


By weaving together a melange of sociological, philosophical, educational, practical, and linguistic voices the monograph helps to explicate the alternative frameworks through which to view successful teaching and learning, obstacles for change, and future directions for research and reform. 

      As editors we have selected leading authors in their respective fields to address the above issues from their own work couched in the larger framework from which they draw their interpretations.  We have purposefully summoned a variety of voices to enrich the discussions of classrooms from both internal and external perspectives.  In an attempt to further enrich the discussion and debate surrounding these issues we will invite the authors to respond in chapter summary to each chapter.  We believe that modeling this kind of intellectual interchange will bring the issues and evidence closer together around our central themes.  We do not believe that the current knowledge in these areas is complete nor is there necessarily complete consensus of agreement among researchers for where answers can be found.  We will, therefore, offer exchanges bewteen authors at the conclusion of each chapter where insights and critiques can lead the reader to other interpretations in the field on these core issues.  Such public exchanges are  rare at professional meetings and rarer still when captured in print.  It is our hope that these exchanges will serve to broaden the voices, representations, and registers, that currently contribute to the discussion of reform and formulation of solutions to today’s science teaching issues. Through the voices of researchers, ethnographers, teacher educators, linguists, teachers, philosophers, and reformers, the authors of this monograph will address core issues of science teaching and research—drawing upon unique perspectives which all play an integral role in defining the nature of meeting the challenges of teaching, learning, and research in an era of national standards for science education.

Chapter 1-- A Linguistic Interpretation of Science Education Reform Challenges


      Current reform calls for students to practice the "habits of mind" characteristic of scientific communities. Ideally, in a reformed classroom, students interact like scientists and act according to what scientists value as a group. To foster this interaction, teachers are currently being challenged to prepare their students to construct and reflect upon scientific knowledge rather than to simply receive it (AAAS, 1989, 1992, &1996; CA Framework, 1992; MI Framework, 1991; NRC 1996).  Included current reform visions are the recommendations that teachers treat scientific knowledge tentatively, provide students with opportunities to reason using evidence, and help students work collaboratively in groups.  In this chapter Dr. Gee confronts some of the misinterpretations of what constitutes scientific talk and why schools miss the mark when they fail to recognize the roles of discourse patterns in classrooms. Finally, Dr. Gee offers a set of guidelines through which teachers and researchers may view children’s talk as that more representative of science.

One way to understand the values and work of scientists operating in communities is by analyzing the discourse they share (King and Brownell, 1966; Gee, 1987; Lemke, 1990; Roth, 1994). Discourse is not simply the accepted ways of speaking within a community. Rather, the term discourse refers to a larger set of dispositions, beliefs, and actions within any social group.  Through the lens of discourse, the scientific community is taken as the unit of analysis, which is much broader in scope than the analysis of scientific concepts or skills. Educators who examine discourse focus on the ways scientists interact so that school science instruction might help students assimilate the same actions and values of scientists. Claims of scientific objectivity, truth, and the production of facts and theories have undergone close scrutiny by sociolinguists and ethnographers of scientific settings (including the indigenous discourse of laboratory settings). The discourse reported in these studies contrasts starkly with the final products, facts, and methods by which scientists have historically been judged (Fleck, 1979; Latour & Woolgar, 1986; Mayr, 1982; Traweek, 1988). Until recently, the exclusivity of the scientific community left the wider public to judge them by only the reports and final research products that had been cleaned up for public view (King & Brownell; 1966).School science has taken on many attributes of a rational, abstract, and removed discipline that is traditionally represented by the passive transmission of collected factual theories and general knowledge from expert to novice. Many arguments are proposed for how this type of school science developed, but, more importantly, school science is criticized for misrepresenting the essence of scientific knowledge and activity. In addition to not reflecting the true nature of science, school science has been criticized for failing to account for how organization of scientific ideas mapped onto students’ prior experiences with science and with school. Though Schwab (1962), Bruner (1960), and even Dewey (1916) have argued that learning should begin with the experience of the students, their advice has been largely ignored. For Schwab (1973), a necessary component of describing science in the classroom was knowledge of the students’ milieu, which could then lead to making important connections between the subject matter and the students.

      Several science educators have criticized the delivery of scientific theory and fact in schools as presenting a science that is “epistemologically flat” (Duschl, 1990). Students are unable to discern the core underpinnings of theory and evidence if they are exposed to only the celebrated winners and are never engaged in either the process of posing their own conjectures or at least the process of deciding for themselves the merits of competing explanations of collected evidence. But school science currently balances a tension between promoting accepted knowledge and engaging learners themselves in constructing their own interpretations from the same data (Layton, 1973: Millar, 1985). Many science educators have surmised why school science continues to be represented by the transmission of long lists of facts and cleaned-up theories, but few have agreed that this representation conveys an undesirable message about the nature of science. Barnes (1982) put forth the question that if teaching science is really the transmission of a body of consensually accepted knowledge, what then is its value as general education? When such a tension exists among science educators, the problem is broader than any single classroom in which science may be taught. Clearly science educators must resolve this dilemma before agreement can be made upon recommendations for accepted pedagogy (Barnes, 1982; DeBoer, 1991).


      Chapter summary and invited critique from another author surrounding the usefulness of this sociolinguistic approach and how it is similar to other current reforms will be discussed.  In addition, commentary will be given on the limitations of this approach and alternative frameworks for success in this age of standards-based education reform.


Chapter 2 -- Essential Similarities and Differences Between Classroom and Scientific Communities


Until recently conversations surrounding what constituted scientific knowledge were generally uninteresting and monochromatic by nature.  Such conversations would either address the substantive nature (concepts and theories generated by the individuals themselves) of scientific knowledge or focus upon the syntactic nature (the processes which lead to the construction of knowledge like the “scientific method”).   However, since Kuhn’s critique upon paradigmatic thought and several ethnographic accounts of scientists in their native setting, reforms are reflecting a more human and complex view of scientific knowledge and what constitutes scientific activity. In an attempt to test popular constructions of science (based upon scientists’ own historical accounts) researchers explored how scientists in research laboratories and other data-gathering contexts operate (Latour & Woolgar, 1986; Traweek, 1988; Woolgar, 1988). The operation of science and the development of scientific theories in the laboratory discourse community are very different from the notion promoted prior to the 1970s that a standard scientific method was employed by scientists to make sense of the world (Millar, 1989). Building from exploratory work on claims of scientific objectivity, researchers explicated scientists’ research processes and theory development as messy, human, and, in many cases, remarkably subjective endeavors—processes and resulting theories reflecting the complexity and humanness of the membership itself.

Claims of scientific objectivity, truth, and the production of facts and theories have undergone close scrutiny by sociolinguists and ethnographers of scientific settings (including the indigenous discourse of laboratory settings). The discourse reported in these studies contrasts starkly with the final products, facts, and methods by which scientists have historically been judged (Fleck, 1979; Latour & Woolgar, 1986; Mayr, 1982; Traweek, 1988). Until recently, the exclusivity of the scientific community left the wider public to judge them by only the reports and final research products that had been cleaned up for public view (King & Brownell; 1966).School science has taken on many attributes of a rational, abstract, and removed discipline that is traditionally represented by the passive transmission of collected factual theories and general knowledge from expert to novice. I use the term school science broadly to include the hidden and implicit curriculum about science being taught in classrooms. Many arguments are proposed for how this type of school science developed, but, more importantly, school science is criticized for misrepresenting the essence of scientific knowledge and activity

      School science on the other hand has remained relatively conservative throughout several reforms. How is it that school science took on its current appearance?  What are contextual factors of classroom communities which drive the discourse in fundamentally different directions than scientific communities? Historical and sociological studies of most schools and scientific communities reveal similarities and differences in the assumptions and values of each setting. Despite school’s mandate to be more democrative and inclusive, scientific communities are elite, competitive, and exclusionary by nature.  Because of differences in scientific and school communities, promoting scientific discourse in school classrooms requires students and teachers to change school discourse while operating within it. Changing school discourses to scientific discourse runs the risk of further stratifying students, as schools have been accused of not being places in which discourse strategies and interpretive measures are made accessible to each student.

      What are important similarities and differences between scientific and classroom communities that are brought to bare when discussing changing classroom discourse to that more consistent of scientific communities? Unfortunately, there is little direction to help teachers decide how to accomplish this task and a major unresolved question is whether students’ and teachers’ discourses have enough family resemblance with scientific discourses to allow such changes to occur.  Drawing on his research among middle school and university biology students and among practicing biologists, Michael Bowen provides insights which may pave the way of constructing classrooms that in fact have a great degree of structural similarity with scientific communities.


Chapter summary and invited critique from another author about the desirability of promoting science discourse in classrooms.  Both costs and benefits will be explored surrounding the imposition of science including the potential marginalization of home-based discourses sacrificed for privileged scientific ones.


Chapter 3 -- Designed Experimentation: Sociolinguistic implications for studying language minority science classrooms


      The goal is of this chapter is to adequately describe details of the designed experiment methodology through several examples while making a strong case for the differences in this kind of science education research and its purpose in studying classroom change. Cindy Ballenger’s chapter brings to the forefront the difficulties of studying classrooms that are in the process of evolving.  As a teacher researcher, Cindy has written several a first-hand accounts for recognizing science in the making.  Her chapter brings together the central strands of balancing her role as a teacher with specific intended outcomes with her role as researcher and participant observer explicating for outsiders important changes in sociocultural contexts. Inasmuch, Cindy captured what teacher and researcher knowledge is required for recognizing and documenting important outcomes and what factors teachers and researchers should consider when studying science classroom discourse.  Beginning with a synopsis of the emergence of designed experimentation and its contributions to science education, Cindy distinguishes designed experimentation from other qualitative research methodologies such as collaborative action research and naturalistic inquiry and argues that designed experimentation is best suited for capturing intended classroom change. Her assertion is based primarily upon the premise that reform involves change in beliefs, actions, and dispositions and, since classroom discourse evolves, it is a moving target for both researcher and teacher.

      How can future researchers benefit from the lessons that are learned from researchers who practice a fringe methodological approach to studying classroom scientific communities? Cindy gives access to important methodological considerations through a variety of accounts and perspectives studying Haitian immigrant children in American bilingual classrooms. Though this research paradigm is not yet fully articulated, it is revealing gaps and inconsistencies in what educators, reformers, researchers “know” about teaching and learning.  Through inter and intra teacher and researcher collaborations, design experiments may help science education as a discipline begin explicating how researchers and teachers could use such a research model to provide a common discourse to difficult issues like diversity in American schools.


Chapter summary and invited critique from another author on the feasibility of being able to ever generalize this kind of approach for improvement of schools in other contexts. The authors will debate whether we must throw away findings in a microculture of school or can we learn more broad lessons from analyzing relatively small and specialized efforts.


Chapter 4 -- Obstacles in Re-negotiating Classroom Knowledge


      Current science education reform rhetoric paint pristine visions of classroom contexts.  The few examples researchers and practitioners share in the discourse of describing evolved constructivist classrooms of the next school era are fully developed, cleared of rough terrain, and often decomplexified for the purpose of speaking to particular aspects of classroom teaching and learning.  These visions, while helpful in setting specific goals and lobbying support for change, do little to help teachers to make initial or assist researchers in interpreting initial steps toward establishing classroom visions which both teachers and researchers agree are desirable. The goal of this chapter is twofold: 1) to draw attention to important obstacles confronting the creation of scientific classroom discourse communities and 2) pose potential strategies for re-negotiating classroom discourse given common origins of resistance and socialization.

      Teachers attempting to establish scientific classroom discourse are comfronted with a number of obstacles which include the recognition and negotiation of the insertion of home-based discourse into classroom inquiry. What are the major obstacles that teachers face when they attempt to establish scientific classroom communities? When presented with alternative ways to speak think and act in the groups, students will not immediately embrace scientific discourse. Instead, students will often insert other ways of speaking, thinking, and acting which are cross-purpose to the goals of scientific inquiry. Randy provides insights to the problematic nature of these pedagogical dilemmas as he speaks from research in culturally diverse classrooms. Randy draws  upon his own teaching of at-risk children as well as other varied classroom settings explicate and analyze  obstacles encountered by teachers in making shifts in classroom discourse.


Chapter summary and invited critique from another author debating teachers’ abilitites to accurately assess obstacles of re-negotiating classroom contexts—especially in classrooms in which cultural norms starkly contrast intended discourse norms.  Such situations place teachers and students in the likely position of misinterpreting one another’s agendas and intentions and brings to the forefront the tension of teachers knowing content vs. social milieu. 

Chapter 5 -- Explicit guidance or negotiated purpose?: The utility of common knowledge and existing classroom discourse toward alternative outcomes


      The central thesis of this chapter is that the notion that there must be explicit guidance in the practices of discourse may be ill conceived. In this framing, there appears to be an underlying assumption that discourse is something homogenous that can be learned in unambiguous ways. However, our experience of discourse is different. Although the words in a language may be finite, there are virtual infinite number of ways of using and reusing formulations in new ways. The issue then is not to guide students to specific discourses—which has a lot to do with cultural reproduction and the with it associated cultural domination by those who have most of the cultural capital (Foucault, 1975)—and more with allowing students to develop their ways of participating in discourse and create their own forms of talking. Here, the problem within much of current science education is apparent. Rather than being an invitation to participate (peripherally or centrally) in some discourses of our society, science teaching is an indoctrination to a particular way of looking at the world—including all the implicit messages that this way is the best and often only way of dealing with the world. But in its attempt of indoctrinating children to a particular worldview, science education is also exclusionary and only a minority of all students ever appropriate and continue to use science discourse. The "problem" of discourse—or language games as many often prefer to call it—has to be decentered. Traditional views equate learning with the transmission of information; others with the radical change of conceptual frameworks. Focusing on language games allows a third perspective on learning and students' resistance to adopting canonical perspectives. Important lessons can be learned from information and technology providers in industry who have found that changes in local practices (including discourses) are not attained by imposing new practices (Jordan, 1992). Rather, to improve the usability of computer systems, users and designers have to become familiar with each other's native discourses, and in the process of working together they each change their native language games (Ehn, 1992); to improve productivity assessments in knowledge-intensive organizations, the members of both research and workplace communities merge in their practices (shared language games), which leads to mutual understandings (Jordan, 1992). Different people need to find a meeting ground, a language game that they can share. On the basis of this shared ground, they introduce others into their own language games. In these situations, each party engages in legitimate peripheral participation in the activities of other communities.

      School situations are similar. By providing a forum for conversations, teachers can help students to change their discourse to increasingly resemble those of some target community; teachers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to find out more about students' language games by listening to their descriptions and explanations (Roth, 1995). Ultimately, we need to decide about a feasible propaedeutic, a goal for teaching science to all. As it is, much of science teaching is elitist and discourages many students (often minorities and women) to abandon. If we took as a goal of science education the participation in public discourses, and begin with this in schools, science education will change. The issues we are dealing with in the society would become the new focus.

      What then would be the new contents of science teaching? At this point in time, many science educators are hung up when it comes to determining what the exact curricular content should be. This is a useless question. Given that we cannot teach everything of importance (Wiggins, 1989)—in fact at the moment we do not teach anything but get students to memorize and regurgitate a few facts for the purpose of selection to the next higher level of schooling—we need to change our focus. In any community, there are many different stories told in many different ways. Only in schools do the same stories have to be told in the same way. It is therefore important that students engage with issues that they truly identify with; that is, content should be driven by what students identify as important not what teachers perceive as and select for them as important. In the process of participating in increasing ways in some public discourse—e.g., environmental protection by taking care of a park, garden, forest, lake—students will learn much more both explicitly and implicitly about science, its values, and purposes than if we make them memorize a few facts about ecology.

      At this point in time, schools are anathema of learning places and little appropriation of science discourse is actually happening. Nowhere in our societies where people learn continuously, effortlessly, and with great zeal do we find the same notions of homogeneity as in schools. Rather, we accept the heterogeneity of skills and understandings as a basic human condition. Some are good at writing books, others in games such as basketball or football; others are good at sprinting; others at supporting happy families. We also have different goals which drive us to learn different things, even changing within short periods of times depending on our continuously situated goals. Only in schools are students expected to have the same goal at the same time, e.g., talking about the Krebs cycle or mitosis (who needs to know these things anyway? Many are perfectly competent and even successful science educator who does not know these things, but we make all students who attend particular classes memorize them.)


Chapter summary and invited critique from another author on the critical stance taken in this chapter. Whether reform is possible at all lies in the viability of a system to transform itself from the inside. The authors will debate how, from the current historical situation of schools, new forms of schooling in the way envisioned by Roth are possible.


Chapter 6 -- Curriculum and Teacher Knowledge Issues Associated with Transforming Classroom Discourse

      Educating teachers with regard to new representations of content and the construction of curriculum that falls outside of the norms of traditional science portrayals is a challenge which must be met. Maria brings together issues of teacher knowledge, teacher education, and assessing curriculum for discussing what kinds of science are found in classroom scientific communities.  Surely one of the great complexities of creating scientific classroom discourse communities is that of addressing teachers’ notion of content and making important changes so that the teacher community might embrace a broader and deeper definition of science content. How is content to be defined in classroom discourse communities?

      Maria discusses issues of content and curriculum as tied to teachers’ and students’ existing notions of what counts for successful teaching.  In this chapter, Maria offers a critique of current science education efforts attempting to define scientific core ideas in classrooms and proposes a strategy for developing curricula according to new reform standards.  She begins her critique with the acknowledgment of the paradigmatic dependency of science content definitions and subsequent goals for reform. A defining characteristic of classroom scientific discourse communities is the aim define curricula through the connection of hands-on and minds-on experiences, the development of understandings about why things happen, the negotiation of students’ perceptions, and the connection of science content to a discourse perspective consistent with the current reform standards. Expert teachers demonstrate repeatedly their competence operating within broad definitions of content unfettered by traditional boundaries, handling spontaneous questions and classroom events while maintaining the interest of all students in developing answers to their classmates’ questions. 

      This chapter concludes with implications for developing the next generation of teachers who will be able to achieve today’s reform visions. The main argument is that teacher education programs need to abandon the separation between "content" and "methods" courses and allow prospective teachers to experience learning science in way they are expected to teach. Teachers themselves need some meaningful way of understanding concepts for themselves as well as delving into, for example, students' conceptions and ways of assessing students' learning.  Teacher educators need to engage novice and practicing teachers in a critical examination of their learning experiences and teaching practices and how these are related to their conceptual framework of what teaching and learning of science is about. Teacher research becomes an important tool for accomplishing this endeavor. Providing resources and rewards to the teachers without structuring an alternative learning experience for teachers to experience the above obstacles will not be sufficient to develop widespread successful scientific classroom communities.


Chapter summary and invited critique from another author on other successful teacher education programs.  There are specific reasons curriculum is sometimes generated outside of the biases and common knowledge of teachers. The authors will debate how teachers can be involved in authentic ways to make pedagogical and content decisions while suspending judgments about students’ capabilities based upon their own content knowledge.


Chapter 7 -- Teaching science in urban high schools: When the rubber hits the road


      This chapter addresses what Ken Tobin has learned from his experience in urban high schools when he left the ivory tower of the university to teach urban high school students in West Philadelphia.  The participants involved in his research are African American students from conditions of economic poverty.  These students attend a neighborhood high school and most of them do not graduate within six years of entering grade 9.  The study explores the teaching and learning of science in a context in which well meaning district and school administrators endeavor to impose a school culture on students and science teachers do what they can to overcome shortages of materials and supplies, inadequate and rundown physical facilities, and a system in which teachers are held accountable for the performance of their students on high stakes tests.  In the process of educating these students their social and cultural resources are more often than not regarded by teachers as deficits; aspects of being that need to change.  Rather than judge, administrators, teachers and students Tobin reports the findings of a critical ethnography in which he participate as a teacher researcher endeavoring to teach physics in ways that are potentially relevant to the interests and needs of students and are [potentially] socially, culturally and economically transformative.

       It seems only fair that all students, irrespective of their social and cultural histories, should enjoy the opportunities that come from science literacy.  Yet planning and devising a curriculum that approaches the ideals enshrined in science for all may be more demanding than is imagined by those responsible for policy in science education.  When the rubber hits the road it is a social and cultural entity, a teacher, who must enact a curriculum in a place that is often foreign; where students with economic, social and cultural backgrounds that differ markedly from their teacher come to be educated (or [alternatively] come with a variety of goals/interests).The research is grounded in contemporary social theory.   For example, in Tobin's analyses of the teaching and learning of physical science he used Bourdieu’s notion that economic, social and cultural capital are fungible resources.  Also Tobin used Bourdieu’s concept of habitus to discuss his development as an urban science teacher and the extent to which, over time, Tobin's practices became more engaging of students and began to enhance student learning.  In the context of me learning to become an urban science teacher Tobin explores the role of learning to teach by teaching with others in urban settings and discussing his evolving praxis, thereby creating a praxeology of urban science teaching. 

      Finally, the chapter addresses racism in Tobin's school and science classroom and the development of racial identity among teachers and students as a critical factor associated with building rapport and sustaining mutual respect within emerging and evolving communities of learners.  Urban schools are regarded as staging grounds for power struggles in which a variety of stakeholders coparticipate in activities that fuel social and cultural production and reproduction cycles and perpetrate a fraudulent system in which only a small fraction of students graduate, earning a credential while being denied an education that is of value to them.


Chapter summary and invited critique from another author on the role of economics and ethnicity in science education.  The authors will debate the extent to which Dr. Tobin’s observations and claims were influenced by his own ethnicity as a White, male, middle-class teacher from the outside and how this student perceived identity impacted their willingness and ability to embrace the shifts Dr. Tobin was  promoting. 


Chapter 8 -- When the Classroom isn’t in School: The Construction of Scientific Knowledge in an After-School Setting


      Research in the field of ecological psychology has documented that ideological values manifest in the physical  (Gump, 1978).  In this case, the beliefs held by teachers, schools or a society regarding teaching and learning directly influence the physical features of classrooms.  In turn these same physical features support the maintenance of ideological values.  For instance, typical features of a classroom, such as the arrangement of individual desks arranged in rows to maximize teacher surveillance, teacher and student ratio that encourages teacher discourse and minimizes student discourse; and textbooks which typically describe phenomenon (science experiments) rather than engage students in experimentation, or a portrayal of science as a set of logical rules and “correct” answers rather than a creative and messy process of knowledge construction illustrate a relationship with ideological values that favor independent learning and individual accountability.   The physical and ideological features of American classrooms has a long and persistent history resulting in an identifiable, classroom culture (Cuban, 1993; Gallego & Cole, in press).

      In this chapter, an after-school initiative collectively referred to as The Fifth Dimension (5D) (Cole, 1996; Rueda, Gallego & Moll, 2000; Schustack, King, Gallego & Vasquez, 1994) is offered as an alternative (additional) setting for the cultivation of scientific knowledge and discourse.  A Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) approach to analysis is used to identify the physical and ideological norms of the 5D represented in the discourse generated by 5D participants (children and undergraduate education majors) while engaged in computer prompted/assisted scientific problem solving.  Purposefully situated out-side of the school and classroom environments, the data will illustrate the unique opportunities as well as distinct constraints for supporting children’s development of scientific knowledge and discourse supported by the 5D environment.


Chapter summary and invited critique from another author discussing why after school programs look so different and the societal forces which drive them to be so. The authors will debate how seriously teachers and researchers must take pressures of “literacy achievement” when deciding in and out of school education.  Keeping the students and location constant offers ground for fruitful discussions surrounding what can and can’t be accomplished when standard classroom constraints are in effect. 


Chapter 9 -- Creating Places to Stand: Redefining Classrooms and Reformulating Science Talk


      The goal of this chapter is to reframe for readers what are vital and desirable attributes of science as an active enterprise.  The central issues that Kathy brings forth involve bringing all children into scientific discussions and the challenge of creating a community in which all members have valued contributions and equal voice. Without resolution on certain basic tenets in science education, the creation of scientific classroom communities may not be considered desirable or reasonable. How can classrooms that are rich with other contextual influences such as assessment, management, and other concerns become places in which all students can acquire scientific discourse? If these competing influences cannot be resolved then, given the major difference between schools and scientific communities, is it really desirable to promote scientific discourse in classrooms? Kathy challenges readers to reconsider wholly embracing or rejecting reform visions without careful consideration paid to the many well-documented attributes and agendas found in American classrooms.  Kathy weaves together issues of

      Kathy begins by challenging typical characterizations of science which inherently contradict school ideals (e.g.: exclusion v. inclusion, competition v. collaboration), arguing that this representation ignores the plethora of other activities and beliefs in operation.  If teachers and researchers ally themselves in their efforts, some of the more important, collaborative, problem solving aspects of scientific communities can be captured and promoted in a variety of settings.  Kathy uses multiple cases to exemplify her claims that ideal scientific communities can be scientific and collaborative while teachers guide students through more problem solving around shared questions and issues.  Such a model initiates opportunities for teaching and research across a variety of cultural contexts, through which much progress can be made toward realizing the image of an ideal scientific classroom community with students of all identities and cultural backgrounds.  With the current attention paid to female and minority representation in the sciences, there is a great need to pose possibilities surrounding the redefinition of school classroom environments in a variety of avenues for membership into scientific communities.  Kathy challenges her readers to create ways that all students, including poor students and students of color, can learn scientific discourse and at the same time retain their home-based discourse and identities defined outside the science classroom. Finally, learning from diverse students and cultural contexts about how to re-imagine some aspects of scientific communities can assist educators, researchers, and scientists to create new possibilities for membership and participation in professional scientific communities -- not just in the science classroom communities.


Chapter summary and invited critique from another author discussing the recent embrace of Feminist frameworks and post-structuralist literature and their role in re-interpreting school dilemmas.  Kathy’s advocacy for children’s ideas and voice will serve as a primary landscape for debating the balance of standards-based curriculum with the notion of each student constructing their own meanings.


Chapter 10 Multiple Literacies and School Science:  Supporting and learning from the participation of students with special needs


      In a volume devoted to examining the complexities of establishing scientific learning communities in classrooms, it is critical that we also examine how students with special needs navigate the intellectual and discursive demands of such communities.  Collins, Palincsar and Magnusson take the view that holding all students to ambitious learning standards in science does not require standardizing ways of knowing, learning, and teaching.  Informed by social constructivist and sociocultural theories, which challenge the assumption of the deficit approach that locates ability, or disability, solely within an individual student or group of students (Vygotsky, 1978; 1987), the authors examine the intersection of environment and individual to understand how they mutually construct each other.  Through close analysis of the participation of students with special needs in a particular form of inquiry science instruction, Guided Inquiry supporting Multiple Literacies (GIsML), they reveal the ways in which specific features of instructional design, discursive interactions, and the use of multiple forms of representation influenced the appearance of “ability” and “disability” in this classroom.

      GIsML is a particular form of inquiry-based instruction which draws on the knowledge building practices of the scientific community (i.e. Magnusson & Palincsar, 1995; Magnusson & Templin, 1995). The GIsML orientation to teaching science was developed to support the engagement of individuals in sustained inquiry about the physical world, and to provide opportunities for social interaction in ways that mirror the knowledge-building practices of the scientific community (Magnusson & Palincsar, in press). The “multiple literacies” aspect of the GIsML orientation refers to its potential to support diverse forms of representation and ways of meaning-making.  For example, within a single cycle of investigation students may employ graphic documentation, informal writing in lab notebooks, formal writing of presentation materials, reading of text-based materials featuring the investigation of a fictitious scientist, individual and small group oral presentation, and whole group discussions (Collins, MacLean, Palincsar and Magnusson, 2000; Palincsar, Magnusson, & Hapgood, 2001).  This aspect of GIsML instruction is informed by new definitions of literacy which challenge and extend static, elite, and functional definitions of literacy (Gee, 1991; see discussions in Au, 1998; Keller-Cohen, 1994, Sleeter, 1986; Trent, Artiles and Englert, 1998; see also Anderson, Holland, and Palincsar, 1997, re science literacy), and argue for consideration of representational practices as socially and historically situated (Gee, 1991, Michaels and O’Connor, 1990).

In this chapter the authors examine the interactions that took place within the context of the Reporting Phase of GIsML instruction in which small groups publicly share the results of their investigations in the form of knowledge claims and evidence for those claims.  The context is a fifth-grade classroom community engaged in an inquiry into explanations of floating and sinking phenomena. Reporting sessions serve as a context for students to: (1) share their claims graphically and discursively; (2) defend and support their claims by providing evidence from observations of phenomena; and (3) work collectively as a community to construct shared understandings, or agreed-upon claims, regarding relationships describing and explaining the phenomena at hand.  For these reasons, the Reporting Phase is a particularly rich activity context for understanding the participation of students with special needs in scientific classroom discourse communities.  In each of the Reporting sessions examined in this chapter, one or more of those students with major speaking roles were identified as having special needs.  Analysis of videotapes, transcripts, and field notes roles of the sessions involving students with special needs reveals how specific discursive moves on the part of classroom community members, such as revoicing (Michaels and O’Connor, 1990), positioning (Davies and Harré, 1990), cognitive linking (Collins, in press), interrupting/overlapping, and the use of multiple forms of literacy supported or undermined the participation of students with special needs in this classroom discourse community.


Chapter summary and invited critique of the role of science in excluding and sorting students in public schools.  Discussing science education issues in a venue of special needs students raises important questions about school agendas, organization, and perceived outcomes.  This is an opportunity to focus our conversations for what science education reformers may refer to as “science for all.”


Chapter 11 -- Implications for Science Teachers and Future Researchers in Evolving Contexts

      How must science teaching change to make pedagogical accommodations that allow for all students to routinely construct scientific arguments? Researchers have argued that we do not know enough about teacher education and teacher knowledge to make recommendations with a high degree of confidence because of the fragmented status of teacher education and learning theories (Duschl & Gitomer, 1991). It is not likely that research will soon produce a coherent framework that will quickly translate into best prescribed practices. The above critiques and pedagogical approaches described above and are not meant to represent a quick fix to deep and complex school problems. However, there are many efforts and a variety of approaches to appropriating scientific discourse in classroom contexts (Ballenger, 1994; Eichinger et al., 1991; Hogan, Pressley, & Nastasi, 1996; Roth, 1994, 1997, 1999; Warren, Rosebery, & Conant, 1989; Yerrick, 1998). Perhaps with a combined effort science educators can formulate a meaningful analysis of sociocultural influences of enough contexts to address many of the dilemmas we are confronted with as we strive for scientific literacy for all students. Researchers point to ways in which teachers’ discourse needs to shift dramatically away from traditional classroom norms that place teachers (or any other single source of information) in the position of ultimate authority.

      The challenge for the teacher is to scaffold classroom discourse in different ways so that students are routinely presented with questions like, “How do you know?”  These norms of discourse challenge the accepted beliefs of how to teach science as they tend to sever teacher control from content-oriented questions. Lemke (1990) and others have argued against using scientific concepts and arguments to maintain classroom control claiming that controlling what students learn from teacher-centered discourse is something other than science. Yet these discipline concerns and other weakly founded assumptions about students and science.  Although promoting scientific discourse may run counter to normal science classroom discourse, it may just be imperative to do so if we are to make changes for all students and live up to our reform visions.

The history and philosophy of science and science education has undergone much change in recent years. Science has come to be understood as a complex, social, and often messy human activity complete with all the human attributes ascribed to other human endeavors including bias and subjectivity. But science also has been utilized to promote stratification in society and to privilege only those individuals who have come to excel in science. It has, therefore, become important to promote science as it really is practiced among scientists and to teach in a way that gives all students access to this important discipline. Teaching science in the ways described in the previous sections engages students in ways that are consistent with that of the tenets of the discipline while encouraging equitable access by connecting the activities and concepts of science closely to the lives of students.

      Accepting these recommendations for praxis, however, is not without its cost on the normal routines of teaching science. Implied in this structure, is an advocacy for transition from traditional transmission models of teaching and learning science toward developing an approach that has been widely referred to as constructivist. Much less lecturing will be expected from teachers and a broader and deeper knowledge of our students will be required to engage them regularly in student-driven investigations. Such a discourse-centered approach can be useful to examine our beliefs about the practice of science and the emerging definitions for scientific literacy as it provides a theoretical basis for representing science as a social practice as well as revealing aspects of scientists’ interactions within the community that can be acquired by all students. To this end, further investigation is required in the classroom context to determine what precursors or conditions must exist to regularly invoke these shifts and how such inroads can become a part of this teacher practice. Despite a propensity to cover the basics, remediate science, teach to the test, and simply manage classroom behavior, many teachers are able to impart to students new insights into what it means to know science. Asking students to learn more of the same things in the old ways serves only to perpetuate their naive beliefs and indifference about the nature of science itself. The above analysis suggests that using a discourse-centered approach can be useful to examine scientific literacy and guide practice. Theoretically, it serves as a way in which to examine the activity of science as a social practice. Practically, it reveals that aspects of scientists’ interactions as a community can be acquired by all students.



Cynthia Ballenger


2067 Massachusetts, Ave

Cambridge, MA 02140



Cynthia Ballenger is an associate professor at Technical Education Research Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cindy and a team of other researchers including Faith Conant, Beth Warren, Mary Catherine O’Connor, and Ann Rosebery have jointly authored many papers emerging from a literacy project in which they continue to study the effect of culture on scientific discourse. The project, Cheche Konnen, has received national acclaim and represents the premier study of science education reform in the culture of Haitian American bilingual education.


G. Michael Bowen

Faculty of Education, SNSC

University of Victoria,

Victoria, B.C.

V8W 3N4

phone 250-721-1431

Michael Bowen holds graduate degrees in biology and sociology and is currently completing his doctoral work in science education. His current research is the examination of enculturation into science experienced by graduate ecology students, the use and interpretation of graphical representations by individuals with various experiences in science (ranging from undergraduates with no or considerable field research experience to those with doctoral degrees in field-research based and theoretical science domains), and the creation of school learning communities which effectively engage students in scientific research design.  Michael currently holds a science education position at the University of Victoria as an instructor of elementary methods and microcomputers for classroom instruction.


Kathleen M. Collins

University of San Diego

School of Education

Program in Teaching and Learning

5998 Alcalá Park

San Diego, CA 92110-2492

phone: (619) 260-7452



Kathleen Mary Collins is an assistant professor of literacy education at the University of San Diego.  Informed by sociocognitive and sociocultural theories, Kathleen’s research examines the role of contextual and interactional features in shaping student performance and achievement, and argues against deficit notions of ability.  Kathleen has presented this work at national and international conferences, and her work has appeared in Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Learning Disabilities Quarterly, and English Journal.  Her latest research, Ability Profiling and School Failure: One Child’s Struggle to be Seen as Competent, will be published in 2002 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


Margaret Gallego

115 North Education

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA  92182-1153

Phone: (619) 594-5777

Margie is a researcher of biliteracy issues in the Educational Psychology Department at San Diego State University.  Having worked in the Holmes Group at Michigan state University and with Hugh "Bud" Mehan at Berkeley, Margie has informed the field of science education through her research of Hispanic children learning science--particularly with regard to after school community programs.  Margie has edited three books in the last ten years and represents a defining voice in multicultural issues in science education reform.


James Gee

Department of Education

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, WI

James Gee is a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jim’s most recent linguistic work to redefine literacy involves his analysis of current educational reform initiatives. One of his favorite topics to discuss is the teaching of science in schools. Jim has published extensively and made numerous presentations at national meetings regarding linguistic interpretation of scientific literacy. Jim has recently received national funding to develop a school and literacy center at Clark University.


Shirley J. Magnusson

Guided Inquiry in Science, Project Co-Director

4002 SEB

The University of Michigan

610 East University Ave.

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259

phone (734)615-6855


Shirley J. Magnusson is a Senior Research Associate, specializing in science education, at the University of Michigan.  Drawing upon social studies of scientific practice, cognitive studies of individual learning, and sociocultural studies of learning in context, her work has sought to advance our understanding of learning and instruction in science, especially in inquiry-based contexts.  With long-time collaborator Annemarie Palincsar, she has focused on the development of a guided inquiry orientation to teaching science, the development of tools to support teacher and student learning relative to this orientation, and the study of teaching and learning in guided inquiry contexts.  That research has included the development of a new approach to studying learning in science (dynamic science assessment), the conduct of a design experiment to support the learning of all students (especially students with special needs) in the ambitious curricular and instructional contexts represented by inquiry-based instruction, and the examination of students’ use of and learning from a novel learning tool: a text-based mode of investigation employing an innovative text modeled after the notebook of a scientist. Findings from this research have been published in journals such as the Journal of the Learning Sciences, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Learning Disabilities Quarterly.

Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar

Jean and Charles Walgreen Chair of Reading and Literacy

Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs

School of Education

University of Michigan

4121 School of Education

610 East University

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259

phone (734) 647-0622


Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar is the Jean and Charles Walgreen Jr. Chair of Literacy, Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs, and a teacher educator at the University of Michigan in the Educational Studies Department.  Her research has focused on the design of learning environments that support self-regulation in learning activity, especially for children who experience difficulty learning in school.  Her initial research was the design and investigation of reciprocal teaching dialogues to enhance reading comprehension with middle school students.  Subsequent research focused on the use of this instruction to introduce primary-grade children to comprehension monitoring as they were learning to read.  With co-principal investigator, C.S. Englert, she conducted research with special educators to design literacy curricula and instruction that would engage special education students in using oral, written, and print literacy to accelerate their literacy learning.  In current research, conducted with science educator, S.J. Magnusson, she studies how children use literacy in the context of guided inquiry science instruction, what types of text support children's inquiry, and what support students who are identified as atypical learners require to be successful in this instruction.  Annemarie has served as a member of the National Academy’s Research Council on the Prevention of Reading Difficulty in Young Children; the National Education Goals Panel, the Schooling Task Force of the MacArthur Pathways Project, and the National Advisory Board to Children's Television Workshop.


Kathleen Roth

321 Erickson Hall

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824

(517) 355-1725

Kathleen Roth is an associate professor at Michigan State University and has worked most recently as a teacher educator and researcher capacity in the Holmes Group Professional Development Schools Network. As a faculty of the National Center for Research on Teaching and Learning, Kathleen has written about conceptual change, gender bias in science, and the reconceptualization of classrooms. Moreover, she also served on the Benchmarks Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science where she guided elementary science education reformers on new directions for content and pedagogy in light of recent research. Kathleen has also served as the Chair of the NARST Publications Committee and a member of the NARST Executive Board. Kathleen is currently leading a team of researchers in California to analyze the latest collected videos from the TIMMS project.


Wolff-Michael Roth

Lansdowne Professor of Applied Cognitive Science

Faculty of Education

University of Victoria,

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada




Wolff-Michael Roth is professor and Lansdowne Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Victoria. Michael has authored and co-authored 5 books and co-edited 2 books. Michael has written extensively on the shifts in discourse of high school students in a variety of settings and using a variety of associated learning strategies, operand epistemologies, and teaching practices associated with scientific discourse in school science classrooms. His current work is interdisciplinary spanning cognitive science, sociology of scientific knowledge, linguistics, and science education. Michael has won several AERA, NARST and JRST writing awards, edited several special issues (IJSE, RISE) and is editor of the AERA-Sig EST section of JSET. Michael will serve as co-editor of this monograph.


Kenneth Tobin

Graduate School of Education University of Pennsylvania

3700 Walnut St

Philadelphia PA 19104-6216

Ken Tobin is a veteran researcher who has led the field of science education for over a decade in socio-constructivist research.  Recognized as en expert on several continents, Ken has traveled throughout the world speaking on issues of teaching, learning, and teacher education related to science.  Ken has been an invited contributor in all the major handbooks of the field and is currently the editor of the international journal of Research in Science Education.


Maria Varelas

Education (M/C 147)

3513 ECSW

University of Illinois

Chicago, IL



Maria Varelas is an associate professor at the University of Illinois where she has conducted research on scientific discourse among Hispanic/English bilingual students. As a teacher educator, Maria has also investigated important obstacles to science classroom reform found in teacher practices, beliefs, and use of language in science classrooms.



Randy Yerrick

San Diego State University

Center for Research in Math and Science Education

6475 Alvarado Rd, Suite 206

San Diego CA  92120-5006

phone: (619) 594-4753



Randy Yerrick is an associate professor at San Diego State University where he studies emerging definitions of scientific literacy in diverse science learning contexts . He has written about efforts to re-negotiate discourse in his own classroom of at-risk students. Randy has presented his findings related to tracking and student alienation at national meetings and currently works as a teacher educator using his interpretive work to explicate dilemmas associated with change in school contexts.