The Practice of Field Ecology: Insights for Science Education
- 343 Downloads
In the past several years a number of authors have suggested that science education could benefit from insights gained by research in the social studies of science that documents and theorises science as it is actually done. There currently exist two gaps in the literature. First, most research in science studies are concerned with the practices enacted in male-dominated scientific disciplines including physics and chemistry; there is little research concerning field ecology, where there are many female graduate students. Second, little work has been done in translating findings from science studies to science education. In this paper, we present findings from our own ethnographic work in field ecology. Our research shows that many traditional claims about the nature of scientific research are not consistent with how ecological understandings are actually constructed. These practices are perhaps more accessible to female students because of how the work and community are constructed. Field ecology may be the one science discipline with features that make it particularly attractive for enculturating a diverse student population currently not enrolling in science. If science educators want to teach science that reflects how it is actually practiced, our work has considerable implications for what science teachers have to do in classrooms. In recent years, a number of science educators have suggested that science education curricula could be enriched by drawing inspiration from studies of scientists and science (e.g., Roth & McGinn, 1998). To provide insights for science education, they focused on aspects of the social studies of science including: methods used to investigate the work of scientists, the practices of the scientists themselves, and the effects on learning when designing learning environments that are based on science studies (e.g., Roth, McGinn, & Bowen, 1996). A better understanding of the characteristics of scientific practice also contributes to a shift in how we view science classrooms and may provide for greater authenticity and inclusiveness in today's science classrooms (Cunningham & Helms, 1998). The purpose of this paper is to provide a description of typical research practices enacted in field ecology. These descriptions provide evidence of authentic research that goes against the traditional image of science. We provide several starting points for discussing the implications to science education from studies such as ours.
Key wordsecology practices sociology of science science teaching and learning
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (1989). Science for all Americans: Project 2061. Washington, District of Columbia: AAAS.Google Scholar
- Bowen, G. M. (1999). The “socialization” and enculturation of ecologists: Formal and informal influences. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association — Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, Sherbrooke, Quebec, June.Google Scholar
- Bowen, G. M., & Roth, W.-M. (2002). The “socialization” and enculturation of ecologists in formal and informal settings. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 6(3), (http://unr.edu/homepage/crowther/ejse/bowenroth.html).
- Carlone, H. (1998). Learning to become a scientist: The enculturation of the newcomer into the practice of science. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, San Diego.Google Scholar
- Cicourel, A. V. (1990). The integration of distributed knowledge in collaborative medical diagnosis. In J. Galegher, R. E. Kraut, & C. Egido (Eds.), Intellectual teamwork: Social and technological foundations of cooperative work. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Cobb, P., & Bauersfeld, H. (1995). Introduction: The coordination of psychological and sociological perspectives in mathematics education. In P. Cobb & H. Bauersfeld (Eds.), The emergence of mathematical meaning: Interaction in classroom cultures (pp. 1–16). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Eisenhart, M. A. (1996). The production of biologists at schools and work: Making scientists, conservationists, or flowery bone-heads? In B. A. Levinson, D. E. Foley, & D. C. Holland (Eds.), The cultural production of the educated person: Critical ethnographies of schooling and local practice (pp. 169–185). New York: State University of New York.Google Scholar
- Eisenhart, M. A., & Finkel, E. (1998). Women's science: Learning and succeeding from the margins. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
- Fox-Keller, E. (1983). A feeling for the organism: The life and work of Barbara McClintock. San Francisco: WH Freeman.Google Scholar
- Gray, N. F. (1982). The use of percolating filters in teaching ecology. Journal of Biological Education, 16, 183–186.Google Scholar
- Gross, A. G. (1996). The rhetoric of science. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Guba, E., & Lincoln, Y. (1989). Fourth generation evaluation. Beverly Hills, California: Sage.Google Scholar
- Haraway, D. (1989). Primate visions: Gender, race, and nature in the world of modern science. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Jordan, K., & Lynch, M. (1993). The mainstreaming of a molecular biological tool: A case study of a new technique. In G. Button (Ed.), Technology in working order: Studies of work, interaction, and technology (pp. 162–178). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Larochelle, M., & Desautels, J. (1991). “Of course, it's just obvious”: Adolescents' ideas of scientific knowledge. International Journal of Science Education, 13, 273–389.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Lynch, M. (1985). Art and artifact in laboratory science: A study of shop work and shop talk in a laboratory. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
- Roth, W.-M., & Barton, A. C. (2004). Rethinking scientific literacy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Traweek, S. (1988). Beamtimes and lifetimes: The world of high energy physicists. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar