ERIC Number: ED464837
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Apr
Essential Elements of Inquiry-Based Science and Its Connection to Generative and Authoritative Student Discourse.
McDonald, James T.; Abell, Sandra K.
The objective of this study was to investigate how two application lessons at the end of an earth science curriculum contributed to two different types of classroom: generative and authoritative. This study used Vygotsky's views to interpret earth science learning in the elementary classroom. The research questions were: How do fifth grade students' discourse enhance their conceptual understanding of erosion during an inquiry-based earth science unit? Do certain types of inquiry-based science activities lend themselves to generative (making meaning) and authoritative discourse? What are the common elements of these lessons that lead to this type of discourse? How did the learning environment facilitate the students' explanations? This naturalistic study took place over a semester long study on erosion. Key informants were eight fifth graders. The contribution of classroom discourse and expertise to conceptual understanding differed between the two focal groups. Group 1 used essential expertise to sustain generative conversation, maximizing their learning opportunities. Students in Group 1 got along with one another, rotated assigned roles and jobs, and were able to start their own generative conversations. Members of Group 1 asked generative questions, connected stream table events to real life situations, and involved everyone in the group. Group 2 engaged in a predominance of procedural discourse and had fewer learning opportunities. Group 2 had two dominant personalities who developed a conflict over roles and jobs, keeping their peers out of the conversation. Students in Group 2 had generative conversations, but these were not sustained due to the lack of acknowledgement of peer expertise and the starting their own generative conversations. (Contains 22 references.) (Author/MM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A