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Beth Warren, Cynthia Ballenger, Mark Ogonowski, Ann S. Rosebery and Josiane Hudicourt-Barnes

(2001) Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38, 529-552.


There are many ways to understand the gap in science learning and achievement separating low-income, ethnic minority and linguistic minority children from more economically privileged students. In this article we offer our perspective. First, we discuss in broad strokes how the relationship between everyday and scientific knowledge and ways of knowing has been conceptualized in the field of science education research. We consider two dominant perspectives on this question, one which views the relationship as fundamentally discontinuous and the other which views it as fundamentally continuous. We locate our own work within the latter tradition and propose a framework for understanding the everyday sense-making practices of students from diverse communities as an intellectual resource in science learning and teaching. Two case studies follow in which we elaborate this point of view through analysis of Haitian American and Latino students' talk and activity as they work to understand metamorphosis and experimentation, respectively. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of this new conceptualization for research on science learning and teaching.

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