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Explanations as cultural tools in science education


After reviewing the main discussions on scientific explanation in the literature, this paper outlines a particular approach to explanations based on sociocultural analysis. The aim is to provide a base for discussing explanations as cultural tools in science education. Drawing on studies of collective remembering, this paper focuses on parallels between explanations and narratives to propose the use of two analytical distinctions: one between the referential and dialogic functions of explanations and the other between specific explanations and schematic explanatory templates. This paper contributes to other studies on scientific explanation in emphasizing how textual resources shape representations of the natural world. In order to illustrate the utility of these distinctions, this paper examines an explanation in quantum physics taken from a college textbook.

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Correspondence to Alexsandro Pereira.

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Pereira, A. Explanations as cultural tools in science education. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 17, 383–403 (2022).

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  • Scientific explanation
  • Sociocultural analysis
  • Dialogic function
  • Schematic templates
  • Wave-particle duality