Research in Science Education

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 317–336 | Cite as

Establishing open and critical discourses in the science classroom: Reflecting on initial difficulties

  • Vaille M. Dawson
  • Peter C. TaylorEmail author


This paper presents a reflective account of a science teacher’s endeavours to use the referent of critical constructivism to transform her pedagogical practices. The context of her action research was a Year 10 Bioethics unit taught at an independent girls’ school in Perth, Western Australia. Students were provided with opportunities to engage in open and critical discourses; many did, but a few were unwilling to participate in accordance with the teacher’s intentions. We illustrate the disruptive influence of these “dissident” students and explore the reasons for their unwillingness to suspend their disbelief in a new way of knowing (and of being) that involves a radical change in the role of language in the classroom. We conclude with recommendations for epistemological pluralism and the careful use of critical discourse for re-negotiating teaching and learning roles and creating conditions for open discourse to flourish.


Learning Environment Science Teacher Teaching Strategy Classroom Environment Critical Discourse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Australian Science Research Association 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Key Centre for School Science and MathematicsCurtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia

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