Research in Science Education

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1151–1169 | Cite as

Using Theater and Drama to Expose and Expand the Epistemic Insights of Youth Regarding the Nature of Science

  • Lydia E Carol-Ann BurkeEmail author
  • Anne Wessels
  • Alison McAvella


Students learn about science in a range of life contexts. Unfortunately, science classrooms are often disconnected from the ways of knowing about science that are embedded in, and embodied by, the life experiences of students. Drama has been identified as a potential means by which deeper understandings of the nature of science can be derived and nurtured but research on how this might be achieved is sparse. This study uses drama methodology to explore epistemologies of science with two groups of secondary school students from very different social contexts: one from a private university preparatory school and another from an after-school community group in a low-income neighborhood. We use a combination of traditional instruments and contemporary methodologies to elucidate students’ perspectives on the nature of science. Despite the similarity in perspectives revealed by the two groups when using the more traditional nature of science testing format, we have shown how drama activities can uncover very different ways in which the two cohorts mobilize their understandings about science. We propose ways in which these methodologies may be employed by teachers to explore and expand the epistemic insights that students bring to the science classroom.


Nature of science Drama Epistemic insight Secondary school science education Science theater 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lydia E Carol-Ann Burke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anne Wessels
    • 2
  • Alison McAvella
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Tarragon TheatreTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Waterloo District School BoardKitchenerCanada

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