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ERIC Number: ED578708
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 137
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-0-3551-3908-2
Supporting Three-Dimensional Science Learning: The Role of Curiosity-Driven Classroom Discourse
Johnson, Wendy Renae
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
The National Research Council's "Framework for K-12 Science Education" (2011) presents a new vision for science education that calls for the integration of the three dimensions of science learning: science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Unlike previous conceptions of science learning that separated content and process goals, in the Framework, "learning is defined as the combination of both knowledge and practice" (2011, p. 254). "The Next Generation Science Standards" (NGSS; 2013) operationalized the Framework's vision by developing learning standards that integrate science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas into three-dimensional performance expectations. The Framework and NGSS supporting documents emphasize that three-dimensional learning requires instruction that centers on explaining natural phenomena. Instruction aimed at figuring out phenomena requires that questions about the natural world and a shared drive to answer those questions are at the core of classroom discourse. I call this "curiosity-driven discourse" because it is motivated by the desire to explain natural phenomena. It differs from typical classroom discourse aimed at procedural display, which I call "task-driven" discourse, primarily in the purposes that are established for learning activities. Curiosity-driven discourse is focused on figuring out phenomena by engaging in scientific practices and applying disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts. Classrooms engaged in task-driven discourse may engage in many of the same activities, but their purposes for doing so are limited to completing the task at hand, generally with the intention of acquiring some discrete knowledge or skill. Through classroom discourse, teachers and students negotiate the purposes of their activities which orients students toward particular types of learning. My dissertation aims to describe how a taken-as-shared frame for understanding "What are we doing here?" emerges through discourse in science classrooms, and how it positions students in terms of developing and using knowledge. Using a mixed methods approach, I carried out three studies within the context of the "Carbon Transformations in Matter and Energy" ("Carbon TIME") project. I analyzed videotaped lessons and a student survey collected in classrooms that were implementing an "NGSS"-aligned curriculum designed to support students' three-dimensional learning about carbon-transforming processes in high school biology. My dissertation advances both theory and practice by conceptualizing curiosity about the natural world as the driver of productive science classroom discourse that fosters three-dimensional learning. Drawing on rich descriptions from diverse high school classrooms, I describe how curiosity-driven discourse positions students as epistemic agents responsible for figuring out phenomena as well as how task-driven discourse orients students toward learning about authoritative science knowledge. My analysis demonstrates the importance of clearly establishing driving questions about natural phenomena to anchor an instructional unit and describes teaching practices that scaffold students' sensemaking and position them as epistemic agents. My dissertation also uncovers key challenges that teachers face in establishing and maintaining curiosity-driven discourse. These insights can benefit practitioners, teacher educators, and researchers as they work to create classroom communities that promote three-dimensional science learning. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A