Conceptualizing Multiplicities of Scientific Literacy from Five Theoretical Perspectives

Faculty Research Research Informing Our Work Home Conceptualizing Multiplicities of Scientific Literacy from Five Theoretical Perspectives There is an ongoing debate about the misunderstanding and mistrust of science. There seems to be an erosion of the understanding of science and engineering among the public. People seem much more inclined to reject facts and evidence today than in the recent past. To this end, we posit that the pervasive assumptions about science stemming from positivism can continue to deepen the public’s misunderstanding and mistrust. Such tensions can be contributing factors to inadequate communication and misrepresentation of the nature of science.  David Steele, a STEM Education Specialist at Alder, and his colleagues argue that the issue of scientific literacy is inseparable from this issue using their research that spans across theoretical paradigms. In this book chapter, the authors discuss the selected theoretical perspectives (Positivism, Constructivism, Pragmatism, Critical Theory, and Poststructuralism), which we use to theorize, analyze, and understand the nature of science and the multifaceted meaning of scientific literacy. First, the assumptions of Positivism and its historical perspective on knowledge and science are discussed. Second, the assumptions of Constructivism are elaborated upon in the context of a research study investigating the secondary high school science teacher’s understanding of the nature of science as it pertains to the teaching and learning of science (Sell, 2018). Third, the tenets of Pragmatism are explained in the context of a study examining written argumentation to enhance middle school students’ scientific literacy in the classroom (Pauli, 2018). Fourth, the assumptions of Critical Theory are described in the context of a study that conceptualizes science as a mechanism for reproducing norms and practices of science as a culture (Steele, 2018). Last, the perspective of Poststructuralism is shared in the context of a study that explores subject positions of teachers, students, and material entities in relation to pushing the boundaries of how we should understand the subjective objectivity of science and thus deconstruct the notion of objective truth (Jeong, 2018). Because this chapter is a theoretical piece, we focus on presenting the important theoretical assumptions and tenets of each perspective with respect to conceptualizing scientific literacy. In doing so, we stand in solidarity to promote a better understanding of the multiplicities of scientific literacy by elaborating on its epistemological and ontological complexities.  

The Multiple Meanings of Scale: Implications for Researchers and Practitioners

Faculty Research Home The Multiple Meanings of Scale: Implications for Researchers and Practitioners Dr. Amy Koehler Catterson, Lead Researcher and Literacy Specialist at Alder, recently co-authored a paper reconceptualizing organizational scale with Dr. Richard Paquin Morel and Dr. Cynthia Coburn of Northwestern University and Dr. Jennifer Higgs of the University of California, Davis. Abstract: Interest in the study of scale has grown over the past three decades, yet it still suffers from a lack of conceptual clarity. Despite attempts at conceptualizing scale, there is still wide diversity in how the term “scale” is used. These differences matter. They impact how scale is studied, the strategies used to achieve scale, and the lessons we can draw across studies of the scale of innovations. In this article, we argue that scale is a polysemic and dynamic phenomenon. There are multiple, legitimate definitions of scale, and such definitions can shift over time, depending on the goals and needs of reformers. Drawing upon an extensive review of the literature, we present a typology of scale comprising four predominant conceptualizations in the literature. We detail the conceptualizations and discuss the affordances and challenges of each. We conclude by offering implications of the polysemic, dynamic nature of scale for researchers and reformers. Presenting this typology, we aim to spark new conversations about scale and to help guide future scale research and practice. If you have access to Sage, sign in at this link to view full article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3102/0013189X19860531  

Unbound Education Standards Institute Teacher Preparation Practitioners Team Time

Faculty Research Home Unbound Education Standards Institute Teacher Preparation Practitioners Team Time In mid-February, we were fortunate to spend a powerful week at UnboundEd’s Standards Institute with 1,200 educators from across the country. UnboundEd is an organization that is “dedicated to empowering teachers by providing free, high-quality, standards-aligned resources for the classroom” through online resources and immersive in-person trainings (Standards Institute). Educators unpacked the details of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to better understand how to provide high-quality experiences for all students. We were challenged to look at what is currently accepted as “growth” in our students and to ask ourselves, Is that growth putting all students on track for college and career readiness? To that end, much of the week was spent examining the intersection of explicit equity with the Common Core State Standards. Recognizing that this work begins well before folks become teachers of record, teacher preparation practitioners attended to learn from UnboundEd and from one another. With faculty and staff from American University, Teacher Preparation Inspection (TPI-US), California State University — Bakersfield, TeachingWorks, Texas Tech University, U.S. PREP, Urban Teachers, National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR), Saint Paul Public Schools, Louisiana Tech University, University of St. Thomas, and Relay Graduate School of Education, we processed our learnings and experiences to determine what next steps we wanted to take within our respective programs. Specifically, we asked ourselves, Based off of our Standards Institute learnings and experiences, what actions will we take to improve candidate training in our program? Program leaders considered many aspects of their work such as coursework, equity, teacher educator colleagues, observation tools, performance gateway assessments, and candidate content training. After our first experience at Standards Institute in the winter of 2018, we scrutinized a course that we have co-taught in the past, EDUC 250: Teaching and Assessment, through a new lens. In thinking about the course learning outcomes for our residents, we realized that the standards needed to be at the center and that explicit connections to educational theory and equity needed to be made. As a result, the course now focuses on deepening residents’ understanding of the structure of the standards, the shifts in the standards, the study of high-quality, standards-aligned curricula, and how these three pieces each intersect with equity. Additionally, throughout the course, residents now gain an understanding of the rigor in the standards by cognitively engaging with the work that their future PK—12th grade students will be completing.  This means residents “do the work.” For example, residents solve mathematical word problems with various methods or annotate and analyze grade-level complex texts, in addition to internalizing lessons from standards-aligned curricula. As we prepare teach EDUC 250 this summer, much of our learnings and experiences from Standards Institute remain in our minds.  To continue to refine the course, we would like to step back and reexamine the degree to which the course outcomes are being met through the current learning experiences.  What is our evidence? Unbound Ed summarized the Standards Institute beautifully by stating, “This is what it takes to do this work: all of us, coming together, to push on the system and provide better for our kids before more students walk across the stage unprepared for life.” We’d like to adopt this charge moving forward in our work with PK—12th grade and graduate students too.

Ensuring Equity in Today’s Classrooms: How Bias Impacts Student Outcomes

Faculty Research Home Ensuring Equity in Today’s Classrooms: How Bias Impacts Student Outcomes Dr. Sha Fanion and Kamie Cowan presented their research at the 21st New Teacher Center Symposium—Converge: Rising Together for Student Success. It was held February 10–12, 2019, in Dallas, Texas. In their presented piece, Dr. Fanion and Ms. Cowan write: Implicit bias in educational environments, especially in today’s P–12 classrooms, can negatively impact student outcomes. However, this impact can be diminished when educators reflect on their own biases and how these biases affect their beliefs and actions with students. Participants reflect on their personal implicit and explicit biases to ensure equity in all classrooms so that all students’ needs are reflected upon, planned for, and met with purpose and fidelity. Participants also receive tools to extend this critical work with others when they return to their schools.