Revising laboratory work : sociological perspectives on the science classroom

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Revising laboratory work : sociological perspectives on the science classroom

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Revising laboratory work : sociological perspectives on the science classroom
Author(s) Jobér, Anna
Date 2016
English abstract
This study uses sociological perspectives to analyse one of the core practices in science education: schoolchildren’s and students’ laboratory work. Applying an ethnographic approach to the laboratory work done by pupils at a Swedish compulsory school, data were generated through observations, field notes, interviews, and a questionnaire. The pupils, ages 14 and 15, were observed as they took a 5-week physics unit (specifically, mechanics). The analysis shows that the episodes of laboratory work could be filled with curiosity and exciting challenges; however, another picture emerged when sociological concepts and notions were applied to what is a very common way of working in the classroom. Laboratory work is characterised as a social activity that is expected to be organised as a group activity. This entails groups becoming, to some extent, ‘safe havens’ for the pupils. On the other hand, this way of working in groups required pupils to subject to the groups and the peer effect, sometimes undermining their chances to learn and perform better. In addition, the practice of working in groups when doing laboratory work left some pupils and the teacher blaming themselves, even though the outcome of the learning situation was a result of a complex interplay of social processes. This article suggests a stronger emphasis on the contradictions and consequences of the science subjects, which are strongly influenced by their socio-historical legacy.
DOI (link to publisher's fulltext.)
Publisher Springer
Host/Issue Cultural Studies of Science Education;
ISSN 1871-1510
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) cultural capital
Group processes
Laboratory work
Science classroom
Socio-historical legacy
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
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