ERIC Number: EJ1055475
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Apr
Abstractor: As Provided
The Structure-Agency Dialectic in Contested Science Spaces: "Do Earthworms Eat Apples?"
Kane, Justine M.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v52 n4 p461-473 Apr 2015
Focusing on a group of African American third graders who attend a high-poverty urban school, I explore the structure-agency dialectic within contested spaces situated in a dialogically oriented science classroom. Contested spaces entail the moments in which the students challenge each other's and their teacher's science ideas and, in the process, construct agentic science selves. Drawing on sociocultural frameworks, I demonstrate the complexities of agency within contested spaces and the ways in which contested spaces shape and are shaped by agentic moves. Using an interpretive qualitative analysis, I found that contested spaces bubble up are maintained by dialogue, and simmer down over time. In this study, children exercised both individual and collective agency in negotiating science ideas with their teacher to shape the science classroom space in favor of their own meaning making. Using dialogicality as a resource and building on their own cultural resources, the children acted as a community of learners to challenge their teacher's science ideas and, in doing so, transformed the dialogic space within the classroom. This study highlights the tensions teachers face in choosing authentic meaning making within the limits of the school day and their own science knowledge. In addition, it demonstrates the importance of providing equitable learning spaces for African American children that offer them opportunities to agentically use their own ways of being as resources for learning and becoming in science.
Descriptors: African American Students, Grade 3, Elementary School Students, Elementary School Science, Science Instruction, Poverty, Urban Schools, Discussion (Teaching Technique), Qualitative Research, Classroom Environment, Concept Formation, Cultural Influences, Communities of Practice, Cognitive Processes, Teaching Methods, Equal Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 3; Primary Education; Elementary Education; Early Childhood Education
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: REC-0411593