The Centrality of Models for Knowledge Claims in Science Education

  • Keith S. Taber


There is an extensive research programme in science education which reports on student thinking, knowledge, understanding and learning in science subjects. Research reports in journals commonly present knowledge claims about these important foci, and often in such reports these core notions (thinking, understanding, knowing, learning) are treated as relatively unproblematic - as though they can be ‘taken for granted’ within the discourse of science education, and as if the process of uncovering thinking, understanding, knowing and learning is relatively straightforward given available research techniques. Yet such foci - another’s thinking, knowing, understanding and learning - are not observables, but rather have to be inferred from phenomena that can be observed in research. Indeed, these foci are arguably at the level of theoretical constructs that act as components of explanatory schemes for making sense of people’s behaviours (such as how they respond to research probes). It is argued that researchers need to be more aware of the difficulties in accessing the mental lives of others, and to be more explicit in their reports about the modelling processes involved in developing accounts of the thinking, understanding, knowing and learning of research participants.


Research Report Alternative Conception Technical Term Knowledge Claim Student Understanding 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith S. Taber
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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