ERIC Number: EJ782447
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Reference Count: 170
Chapter 2: Resisting Unlearning--Understanding Science Education's Response to the United States's National Accountability Movement
Southerland, Sherry A.; Smith, Leigh K.; Sowell, Scott P.; Kittleson, Julie M.
Review of Research in Education, v31 n1 p45-77 2007
This article explains the apparent failure to communicate between science education researchers, policy makers, and staff at state and district offices of education. Each group is a stakeholder in K-12 education. Policy makers specify courses of action to meet the needs of an educational system, state and district staff work to implement these policies, and science education researchers examine educational systems with the hope of proposing changes to better support learning. Ideally, research would complement and inform policy. However, the failure-to-communicate scenario described in this article exposes a fundamental incommensurability between current educational policy and science education research. The authors invoke the idea of first-order/second-order change to explain this failure to communicate. First-order change requires small alterations of or additions to existing practices (e.g., changes in texts, number of students in a classroom, length of day, equipment), basically any attempt to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of current schooling practices. In contrast, second-order change is meant to alter the fundamental patterns of schooling; these changes are much more radical and transformative because they challenge the structures and rules that constitute traditional schooling practices. Second-order changes "challenge the cultural traditions of schools" and require fundamental changes in both teacher thinking and classroom practice. Thus, they are inherently more difficult to implement and sustain. The authors argue that the science education reform efforts that began in the mid-1980s represent an attempt to enact second-order change. In contrast, the policy community, via No Child Left Behind (NCLB), simply calls for change without guidelines to support teaching and learning. To comply with NCLB requirements, school districts often take the most expedient and efficient routes rather than support the kinds of teaching and learning environments that support reform-oriented recommendations. The authors argue that it is not enough to work within the current climate of first-order changes; instead, science educators must take a more active role in helping states, districts, and producers of textbooks and assessments to make the call for fundamental, second-order change intelligible and compelling.
Descriptors: Educational Research, Policy Formation, Legislators, School Districts, Administrator Role, Educational Quality, Elementary Secondary Education, Federal Legislation, Educational Change, Researchers, Educational Policy, Science Education, Cooperative Planning, Educational Planning, Change Strategies, Classroom Techniques, Compliance (Legal), Educational Environment, Teacher Role, Scientific Concepts, Concept Formation, Inquiry, Student Diversity, Epistemology, Teacher Education, Science Teachers
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001