Scientific and Cultural Knowledge in Intercultural Science Education: Student Perceptions of Common Ground
- 1.3k Downloads
There is no consensus in the science education research community on the meanings and representations of western science and indigenous knowledge or the relationships between them. How students interpret these relationships and their perceptions of any connections has rarely been studied. This study reports student perceptions of the meaning and relationship between scientific and cultural knowledge. Personal meaning maps adapted for small groups were conducted in seven culturally diverse schools, school years 7–9 (with students aged 12–15 years) (n = 190), with six schools in Western Australia and one school in Malawi, Africa. Of the six Australian school groups, two comprised Australian Aboriginal students in an after-school homework programme and the other four schools had a multicultural mix of students. Students in this study identified connections between scientific and cultural knowledge and constructed connections from particular thematic areas—mainly factual content knowledge as opposed to ideas related to values, attitudes, beliefs and identity. Australian Aboriginal students made fewer connections between the two knowledge domains than Malawian students whose previous science teacher had made explicit connections in her science class. Examples from Aboriginal culture were the most dominant illustrations of cultural knowledge in Australian schools, even in school groups with students from other cultures. In light of our findings, we discuss the construction of common ground between scientific knowledge and cultural knowledge and the role of teachers as cultural brokers and travel agents. We conclude with recommendations on creating learning environments that embrace different cultural knowledges and that promote explicit and enquiring discussions of values, attitudes, beliefs and identity associated with both knowledge domains.
KeywordsScientific knowledge Cultural knowledge Border crossing Worldview Multicultural Indigenous knowledge Aboriginal Intercultural
This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant (LP100100640). We thank our co-investigators of the project, staff at the Gravity Discovery Centre and Graham Polly Farmer Foundation (partners in the research grant) for facilitating group participation and Fred Deshon for introducing us to School Green. We thank the principals and teachers who provided access to their classes and students who participated in this study.
- Aikenhead, G. (2001). Integrating Western and Aboriginal sciences: cross-cultural science teaching. Research in Science Education, 31(3), 337–355.Google Scholar
- Austin, J., & Hickey, A. (2011). Incorporating indigenous knowledge into the curriculum: responses of science teacher educators. The International Journal of Science in Society, 2(4), 139–152.Google Scholar
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4714.0Main%20Features22008?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4714.0&issue=2008&num=&view=.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Reflecting a nation: stories from the 2011 Census, 2012–2013. Retrieved 28 September, 2012, from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0main+features902012-2013.
- Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (2011) The shape of the Australian curriculum: languages. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Languages_-_Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum.pdf.
- Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012a). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
- Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012). General capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Intercultural Understanding, Sydney, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
- Banks, J. A. (1991). Teaching strategies for ethnic studies. Needham Heights: Allyn and Bacon Inc.Google Scholar
- Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (2009). Multicultural education: issues and perspectives. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Baynes, R., & Austin, J. (2012). Indigenous knowledge in the Australian national curriculum for science: from conjecture to classroom practice. Paper presented at the 5th Biennial International Indigenous Development Research Conference, Auckland: New Zealand.Google Scholar
- Brandt, C. (2007). Epistemology and temporal/spatial orders in science education: A response to Aikenhead & Ogawa's: Indigenous knowledge and science revisited. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(3), 539–620.Google Scholar
- Brunton, R. (1998). Betraying the victims: the ‘stolen generation’ report. IPA Backgrounder, 10(1), 1–24.Google Scholar
- Chimombo, J., Kunje, D., Chimuzu, T., & Mchikoma, C. (2005). The SACMEQ II Project in Malawi: a study of the conditions of schooling and the quality of education. Retrieved from http://www.sacmeq.org/education-malawi.htm.
- Cobern, W. W., & Loving, C. C (2004). Defining ‘science’ in a multicultural world. Reconsidering science learning (pp. 50-67). New York: Routledge Routledge.Google Scholar
- Creswell, J. W. (2008). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- De Bortoli, L. J., & Thomson, S. (2010). Contextual factors that influence the achievement of Australia’s indigenous students: results from PISA 2000-2006. Retrieved from www.acer.edu.au/documents/pisa-indigenous-contextual-factors.pdf.
- Department of Education Western Australia. (2012). Aboriginal education glossary. Retrieved 12th March, 2012, from http://www.det.wa.edu.au/aboriginaleducation/detcms/navigation/glossary.jsp.
- Dzama, E., Holtman, L., Kolstø, S. D., & Mikalsen, Ø. (2008). Practice-related underachievement in science education: the case of Malawi. In L. Holtman, C. Julie, Ø. Mikalsen, D. Mtetwa, & M. Ogunniyi (Eds.), Some developments in research in science and mathematics in Sub-Saharan Africa: access, relevance, learning, curriculum research (p. 207–224). Somerset West: African Minds.Google Scholar
- Fensham, P. J. (2008). Science education policy-making: eleven emerging issues. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
- Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
- Gay, G. (2003). The importance of multicultural education. Educational Leadership, 61(4), 30–35.Google Scholar
- Gee, J. P. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies: ideology in discourses (2nd ed.). London: Farmer.Google Scholar
- Given, L. M. (2008). The SAGE encyclopedia of qualitative research methods (Vol. 2). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- Gondwe, M., & Longnecker, N. (2011). A framework for engaging Indigenous students with science through storytelling. Paper presented at the Australasian Science and Education Research Association, Australia: Adelaide.Google Scholar
- Guerra-Ramos, M. T., Ryder, J., & Leach, J. (2010). Ideas about the nature of science in pedagogically relevant contexts: insights from a situated perspective of primary teachers’ knowledge. Science Education, 94(2), 282–307.Google Scholar
- Hackling, M., Peers, S., & Prain, V. (2007). Primary connections: reforming science teaching in Australian primary schools. Teaching Science, 55(3), 12–17.Google Scholar
- Hidalgo, N. M. (1993). Multicultural teacher introspection. In T. Perry & J. W. Fraser (Eds.), Freedom’s plow: Teaching in the multicultural classroom (pp. 99–106). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hunting, H. (2000). Using traditional ecological knowledge in science methods and applications. Ecological Application, 10(5), 12270–11274.Google Scholar
- Krippendorff, K. (2004). Content analysis: an introduction to its methodology. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- Lee, H., Yen, C., & Aikenhead, G. (2012). Indigenous elementary students’ science instruction in Taiwan: indigenous knowledge and Western science. Research in Science Education, 42(6), 1183–1199. doi: 10.1007/s11165-011-9240-7.
- Lombard, M., Snyder-Duch, J., & Bracken, C. C. (2004). Practical resources for assessing and reporting intercoder reliability in content analysis research projects. Retrieved from http://www.slis.indiana.edu/faculty/hrosenba/www/Research/methods/lombard_reliability.pdf
- Maxwell, J. A. (2004). Qualitative research design: an interactive approach. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc..Google Scholar
- McConney, A., Oliver, M., Woods-McConney, A., & Schibeci, R. (2010). Bridging the gap? A comparative, retrospective analysis of science literacy and interest in science for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian students. International Journal of Science Education, 33(14), 2017–2035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McInerney, V. (2003). Multiculturalism in today’s schools: have teachers’ attitudes changed over two decades? Paper presented at the SELF Research Centre at the Annual Meeting of the Australian Association for the Research in Education , Auckland, New Zealand.Google Scholar
- McKinley, E., & Stewart, G. (2009). Falling into place. Indigenous science education research in the Pacific. In R. S (Ed.), The world of science education: Handbook of research in Australasia (pp. 49-66). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
- McNaught, C., & Lam, P. (2010). Using Wordle as a supplementary research tool. The Qualitative Report, 15(3), 630–643.Google Scholar
- Mellor, S., & Cooringan, M. (2004). The case for change: A review of contemporary research of Indigenous education outcomes. Retrieved from http://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=aer
- Michie, M. (2002). Why Indigenous science should be included in the school science curriculum. Australian Science Teachers, 48(2), 36–40.Google Scholar
- Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training, and Youth Affairs. (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Retrieved from http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf.
- Munro, H. (2007). Use of appropriate language when working with Aboriginal communities in NSW. Retrieved from http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/_assets/main/documents/researchnotes_aboriginal_language.pdf
- National Health and Medical Research Council. (2003). Values and ethics—guidelines for ethical conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. Retrieved from http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/e52.pdf.
- Pallant, J. (2010). SPSS survival manual: a step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS (4th ed.). Maidenhead McGraw-Hill International (UK) Ltd.Google Scholar
- Phiri, A. D. (2008). Exploring the integration of Indigenous science in the primary school science curriculum in Malawi. Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.Google Scholar
- Phua, V. (2003). Convenience sample. In A. E. Bryman, T. F. Liao, & M. Lewis-Beck (Eds.), The Sage encyclopedia of social science research methods (Vol. 1, p. 198). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- Reid, C. (2001). Magpie babies: urban Aboriginal students, identity and inequality in education. In A. Ward & R. Bouvier (Eds.), Resting lightly on Mother Earth: The Aboriginal experience in urban educational settings. Calgary, Alberta: Detselig Enterprises.Google Scholar
- Rothstein-Fisch, C., Greenfield, P., & Trumbull, E. (2003). Bridging cultures with classroom strategies. Bridging Cultures with classroom strategies. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Russell-Smith, J., Lucas, D., Gapindi, M., Gunbunuka, B., Kapirigi, N., Namingum, G., et al. (1997). Aboriginal resource utilization and fire management practice in western Arnhem Land, monsoonal northern Australia: notes for prehistory, lessons for the future. Human Ecology, 25(2), 159–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Saldana, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitive researchers. London: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- Schreiner, C., & Sjøberg, S. (2007). Science education and youth’s identity construction—two incomptabile projects? In D. Corrigan, J. Dillon, & R. Gunstone (Eds.), The re-emergence of values in science education (p. 231). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
- Stephens, S. (2003). Handbook for culturally responsive science curriculum. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Knowledge Network.Google Scholar
- Stocklmayer, S. M., & Gilbert, J. (2003). Informal chemical education. Chemical Education: Towards Research-based Practice, 17, 143–164.Google Scholar
- Thomson, S., & De Bortoli, L. (2008). Exploring scientific literacy: how Australia measures up. The PISA 2006 survey of students’ scientific, reading and mathematical literacy skills. Camberwell Victoria, Australia: ACER Press.Google Scholar
- Woods-McConney, A., Oliver, M., McConney, A., Maor, D., & Schibeci, R. (2011). Science engagement and literacy: A retrospective analysis for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. Research in Science Education, 1-20. doi: 10.1007/s11165-011-9265-yGoogle Scholar
- Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: design and methods (vol. 5). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar