The Heroes of Science

  • Michiel van Eijck
  • Wolff-Michael Roth
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 7)


This chapter highlights recent work in science education research on representations of scientists in a sample of high school and college textbooks. Drawing on semiotic and cultural–historical activity theoretical frameworks, two analyses are presented. A coarse-grained, quantitative analysis of the prevalence and structure of these representations exhibited bias toward particular scientists’ representations and particular types of texts and inscriptions therein, suggesting a domain-specific rhetorical structure. A fine-grained, qualitative analysis of scientists’ representations revealed that high school and college textbooks represent (a) objects of scientific practice as projected or anticipated independently from human activity; (b) scientists’ individual actions aiming at the creation of non-tangible tools and rules by means of observation, modification, or manipulation of given, tangible objects; (c) scientific practice as isolated due to which the simultaneous belonging to different practices hardly determines the goals of scientists’ actions; and (d) scientists as part of a small community of mainly other scientists who subsequently determine each other’s individual actions. The heroic image of images of scientists emerging from our analysis is discussed in light of persistent problems that are plaguing today’s science education. This opens up a need for a different science education.


Scientific Practice Science Curriculum Individual Scientist Science Textbook Stereotypic Image 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michiel van Eijck
    • 1
  • Wolff-Michael Roth
    • 2
  1. 1.Eindhoven School of EducationEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Griffith Institute for Educational ResearchGriffith UniversityGriffithAustralia

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