How people feel their engagement can have efficacy for a bio-based society

Susanne Sleenhoff, Patricia Osseweijer

Up till now, the transition to a bio-based economy mainly involves expert stakeholders. However, the actions required are of a collective scale necessitating public engagement for support and action. Such engagement is only successful if members of the public believe their participation holds efficacy. This belief is closely linked to their personal representation of the issue. We report findings from our Q methodology workshop that explored public’s efficacy beliefs on their perceived ways for engagement with a bio-based economy. Participants were provided with stakeholders’ visual representations depicting a concourse of the transition to a bio-based economy for Q sorting. We found five efficacy beliefs that differ in scale on which participants consider themselves capable for action. These results indicate that members of the public foresee distinct and shared ways and levels in how they can engage with the transition to a bio-based society that do not always concur with stakeholders’ views.



Positionings of racial, ethnic, and linguistic minority students in high school biology class: Implications for science education in diverse classrooms

Minjung Ryu

In the present study, I analyze ethnographic data from a year-long study of two Advanced Placement (AP) Biology classes that enrolled students with diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. Specifically, I consider participation, positioning, and learning of newcomer Korean students in the focal classes. Building on the notion of figured worlds, I define the AP Biology classes as a localized figured world in which students position and are positioned within its interpretive frameworks and analyze how newcomer Koreans are positioned in relation to each other. The analysis illustrates that students were relationally positioned, primarily based on their biology achievement and discursive participation, among other interpretive frameworks. In this localized figured world, newcomer Korean students were positioned at a lower status because they did not participate in the classroom discourses, as well as their lack of speech and certain forms of speech indicated their failure to adequately learn English and U.S. school practices. Based on the findings, I discuss practices and ideologies about science, classroom participation, and transnational students that are prevalent in broader contexts and reflected in the localized figured world. In light of the national and international contexts in which increasingly more people migrate across national borders, I draw implications for science education in racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse classrooms.


Preschool children’s taxonomic knowledge of animal species

Although taxonomic proficiency is a prerequisite for understanding ideas central to biology, previous research has established that learners frequently misclassify animals by not following the tenets of accepted taxonomic rubrics. This has immediate relevance with the recently revised English National Curriculum now requiring concepts of animal classification to be taught to 5–6 year-olds. The current study represents an attempt to explore how preschool children aged 3–5 years classify animals, and patterns in the ways in which their taxonomic knowledge might progress with age were sought to illuminate potential origins of naive conceptions in the early years. A quantitative approach was employed with a sample of 75 children utilising a structured interview method to determine their ideas about the taxonomic labels animal, fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal and insect. Findings revealed common learning trajectories as children’s prototypes developed from 3 to 5 years. These trajectories confirmed that the preschool children held many of the same naive conceptions as those previously reported in older learners. Some of these conceptions started to dissipate with age; however, others began to emerge in the older children within the sample, representing a decline in performance with age. This decline is concerning though can be accounted for by contemporary categorization theory, giving support to the view that science misconceptions can emerge in the early years due to natural maturation (cognitive factors), as well as exposure to formal and informal learning experiences (socio-cultural factors). To supplement established conceptual change strategies, which deal with already-formed misconceptions, it is proposed that there be a fresh research emphasis towards conceptual creation where acceptable scientific ideas are seeded at the earliest years of schooling. Accordingly, the role of early years educators would become fundamental to effective science education.


How science texts and hands-on explorations facilitate meaning making: Learning from Latina/o third graders

Maria Varelas, Lynne Pieper, Amy Arsenault, Christine C. Pappas and Neveen Keblawe-Shamah

In this study, we examined opportunities for reasoning and meaning making that read-alouds of children’s literature science information books and related hands-on explorations offered to young Latina/o students in an urban public school. Using a qualitative, interpretative framework, we analyzed classroom discourse and children’s writing and drawing in a 3rd grade class during five instructional days that focused on the same science topic (earthworms and their features, behaviors, habitat, etc.) and included read-aloud sessions of print and digital books on earthworms along with observations and experiments with real earthworms. We identified ways in which dialogically shared read-alouds of children’s literature science books on earthworms became tools for children’s meaning making that involved a variety of types of reasoning (causal, teleological, comparative, analogical) in the form of questions, statements, or mini-stories, and how the teacher mediated the children’s engagement in reasoning. We also identified unique opportunities that hands-on explorations offered children to extend their ideas about earthworms, sprinkle their reasoning with playfulness, imbue affect in their meaning making, exhibit sensitivity to suffering and personal connections, and consider ethical treatment of animals. The study findings highlight the synergistic relationship between informational texts and hands-on explorations and point to the significance and usefulness of incorporating both in science instruction so that we maximize the richness of children’s learning experiences by offering them multiple access points and pathways via the assets they bring to the classroom and the ones they co-construct with their teacher and peers.