science education

A sociohistorical examination of George Herbert Mead’s approach to science education

Michelle L. Edwards

Although George Herbert Mead is widely known for his social psychological work, his views on science education also represent a significant, yet sometimes overlooked contribution. In a speech delivered in March 1906 entitled “The Teaching of Science in College,” Mead calls for cultural courses on the sciences, such as sociology of science or history of science courses, to increase the relevancy of natural and physical science courses for high school and university students. These views reflect Mead’s perspective on a number of traditional dualisms, including objectivity versus subjectivity and the social sciences versus natural and physical sciences. Taking a sociohistorical outlook, I identify the context behind Mead’s approach to science education, which includes three major influences: (1) German intellectual thought and the Methodenstreit debate, (2) pragmatism and Darwin’s theory of evolution, and (3) social reform efforts in Chicago and the General Science Movement.


Engagement as a Threshold Concept for Science Education and Science Communication

Merryn McKinnon & Judith Vos

Science communication and science education have the same overarching aim—to engage their audiences in science—and both disciplines face similar challenges in achieving this aim. Knowing how to effectively engage their ‘audiences’ is fundamental to the success of both. Both disciplines have well-developed research fields identifying best practice. However, there seems to be an impediment in putting this knowledge into practice, or even much sharing of knowledge between the 2 disciplines. Threshold concepts refer to concepts that are fundamental to thinking and practice in a discipline. In this paper, we argue that engagement is a threshold concept for both science education and science communication. Considering the vast amount of literature on science education and science communication, the focus in this paper is on recent recommendations rather than longstanding, more general notions, providing a contemporary view. This paper illustrates how engagement fulfils the characteristics of a threshold concept for both disciplines and highlights how the 2 fields could assist each other. The purpose of this paper is to spark new conversations and sharing between the 2 disciplines, with the use of threshold concepts as a vehicle for enabling collaboration and progress.


Nacherzeugung, Nachverstehen: A phenomenological perspective on how public understanding of science changes by engaging with online media

Wolff-Michael Roth, Norm Friesen

It is widely acknowledged in science education that everyday understandings and evidence are generally inconsistent with the scientific view of the matter: “heartache” has little to do with matters cardiopulmonary, and a rising or setting sun actually reflects the movements of the earth. How then does a member of the general public, which in many areas of science is characterized as “illiterate” and “non-scientific,” come to regard something scientifically? Moreover, how do traditional unscientific (e.g., Ptolemaic) views continue their lives, even many centuries after scientists have overthrown them in what are termed scientific (e.g., Copernican) revolutions? In this study, we develop a phenomenological perspective, using Edmund Husserl’s categories of Nacherzeugung and Nachverstehen, which provide descriptive explanations for our observations. These observations are contextualized in a case study using online video and historical materials concerning the motions of the heart and blood to exemplify our explanations.