Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 285–315

The discourse of design-based science classroom activities

  • Flávio S. Azevedo
  • Peggy L. Martalock
  • Tugba Keser
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11422-013-9540-5

Cite this article as:
Azevedo, F.S., Martalock, P.L. & Keser, T. Cult Stud of Sci Educ (2015) 10: 285. doi:10.1007/s11422-013-9540-5

Abstract

This paper is an initial contribution to a general theory in which science classroom activity types and epistemological discourse practices are systematically linked. The idea is that activities and discourse are reflexively related, so that different types of science classroom activities (e.g., scientific argumentation, modeling, and design) recruit characteristically distinct forms of participants’ (students and teacher) discourse. Such a general theory would eventually map out the full spectrum of discourse practices (and their patterns of manifestation) across various kinds of science classroom activities, and reveal new relationships between forms of both discourse and activities. Because this defines a complex and long-term project, here our aim is simply to delineate this larger theoretical program and to illustrate it with a detailed case study—namely, that of mapping out and characterizing the discourse practices of design-based science classroom activities. To do so, we draw on data from an activity that is prototypically design-based—i.e., one in which students iteratively design and refine an artifact (in this case, pictorial representations of moving objects)—and examine the structure and dynamics of the whole-class discourse practices that emerge around these representational forms. We then compare and contrast these discourse practices to those of an activity that is prototypical of scientific argumentation (taken from the literature)—i.e., one in which students argue between competing theories and explanations of a phenomenon—and begin to illustrate the kinds of insights our theoretical program might afford.

Keywords

Activity typesDiscourseDesign-based activitiesArgumentationScience education

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Flávio S. Azevedo
    • 1
  • Peggy L. Martalock
    • 2
  • Tugba Keser
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of EducationThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, School of EducationUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA