Uncertainty and Graphing in Discovery Work

Implications for and Applications in STEM Education

  • Wolff-Michael Roth

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 3-29
  3. Graphing in a Discovery Science

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 31-47
    2. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 49-67
    3. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 69-101
    4. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 103-148
    5. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 149-178
    6. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 179-211
    7. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 213-262
    8. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 263-296
  4. Retheorizing Graphing

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 297-300
    2. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 301-333
    3. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 335-355
  5. Uncertainty and Graphing in STEM Education

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 357-363
    2. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 365-395
    3. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 397-422
  6. Epilogue

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 423-424
    2. Wolff-Michael Roth
      Pages 425-444
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 445-454

About this book


This book deals with uncertainty and graphing in scientific discovery work from a social practice perspective. It is based on a 5-year ethnographic study in an advanced experimental biology laboratory. The book shows how, in discovery work where scientists do not initially know what to make of graphs, there is a great deal of uncertainty and scientists struggle in trying to make sense of what to make of graphs. Contrary to the belief that scientists have no problem “interpreting” graphs, the chapters in this book make clear that uncertainty about their research object is tied to uncertainty of the graphs. It may take scientists several years of struggle in their workplace before they find out just what their graphs are evidence of. Graphs turn out to stand to the entire research in a part/whole relation, where scientists not only need to be highly familiar with the context from which their data are extracted but also with the entire process by means of which the natural world comes to be transformed and represented in the graph. This has considerable implications for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education at the secondary and tertiary level, as well as in vocational training. This book discusses and elaborates these implications.


STEM education discovery sciences graphs and graphing mathematics education radical uncertainty science education scientific canon scientific discovery social studies of science

Authors and affiliations

  • Wolff-Michael Roth
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Bibliographic information