Encyclopedia of Science Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone

Agency and Knowledge

  • Gérard Sensevy
  • Andree Tiberghien
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6165-0_413-1

An Agentive and Social Conception of Knowledge

What is the meaning of knowledge? We think that any educational endeavor rests on a conception of what knowledge is. This conception may be explicit or tacit, but we argue that it shapes the way educational processes unfold and the conception in turn is shaped by these educational processes.

In this short entry, we propose an agentive conception of knowledge. What does it mean? We consider knowledge as a power of acting. In that conception, learning a piece of knowledge means becoming able to act in a specific new way. This definition does not imply any normative conception of knowledge. For example, a person who learns a science formula by rote and without understanding has gained a power of action. If someone asks her to recite this formula, she will be able to do it and she will be able to do something she was unable to do before she learned by rote. One may argue that that is a poor conception of science education, in that the learned...


Epistemic Agency Epistemic Activity Didactic Contract Epistemic System Didactic Activity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of Western BrittanyRennesFrance
  2. 2.Université Lyon, National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)LyonFrance