ERIC Number: EJ1116694
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Cultural-Historical Activity Theory/Design-Based Research in Pasteur's Quadrant
Greeno, James G.
Journal of the Learning Sciences, v25 n4 p634-639 2016
About two decades ago, Donald Stokes published "Pasteur's Quadrant" (Stokes, 1997). Stokes proposed that the motivations of different research projects can be understood as a two-dimensional system, with higher or lower concern for improving technology and practice on one dimension and higher or lower concern for improving fundamental understanding on the other dimension. Stokes provided concrete examples in the four quadrants of this two-dimensional system. He called the quadrant defined by low aspirations for improving technology and practice but high aspirations for improving fundamental understanding "Bohr's quadrant," typified by Niels Bohr's development of the standard model of atoms in physics. He called the quadrant defined by high aspirations for improving technology and practice and low aspirations for improving fundamental understanding "Edison's quadrant," typified by the research and development, led by Thomas Edison, that resulted in the invention of the electric lightbulb and the grid systems that distribute electrical energy in cities and societies. Stokes called the quadrant of high aspirations for both improving technology and practice and improving fundamental understanding "Pasteur's quadrant," typified by the research and development, led by Louis Pasteur, that resulted in development of the theory of disease transmission and fermentation based on hypotheses about microorganisms and revolutionized medical practice and policies in public health. In this commentary, James Greeno examines how the articles in this issue on cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) and design-based research (DBR) relate to Stokes' (1997) characterization of research and development. Greeno concludes that the research and development represented in these articles meets the criterion of being in Pasteur's quadrant; that is, these studies qualify as use-inspired basic research.
Descriptors: Outcomes of Education, Research Design, Research Methodology, Cultural Context, Technological Advancement, Technology Uses in Education, Educational Technology, Educational Innovation, Learning Theories, Scientific Research, Science Instruction, Science Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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