Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Excerpts from Seven Paradigms of Science Education - The 3p’s of bioquest

21st Century Pedagogies

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What is science?
A fundamentally process for determining answers to inquiries

What is knowledge?
Contingent but socially scrutinized claims.

What is the job of the teacher?
To produce, in a theatrical sense, a simulation of the network and the social (peer) pressure of science.

What is the job of the student?
To become a simulated scientist, to hypothesize, test those hypotheses against nature, and then subject conclusions to peer review.

What is the purpose of assessment?
To test the mettle of a claim against empirical, logical, theoretical, and alternative challenges.

What is the purpose of the laboratory?
To provide a simulation of the work of scientists from posing questions, through exploring answers, to going public with claims.

Time Zone 3: Process

The focus among scholars in this third time zone (paradigm) is the process of science itself rather than its concepts. I offer the 3P's pedagogy of Peterson and Jungck (1988) as the key exemplar of this school. The 3P's model (i.e., problem posing, problem solving and persuasion) tries to reproduce the scientific process of inquiry and social engagement. Jungck and Peterson emphasize the use of computer simulations to accelerate the time needed to carry out large number of iterations of an experiment. The emphasis is not on adjusting specific models of nature but the act of scientific inquiry itself. The rationale for this shift is the concern that while the fundamental concepts of science themselves may be evanescent, the processes which establish those concepts (hypothesizing, replication, control, etc.) will persist. Processes, that collection of procedures that we call scientific, should be the focus of science education rather than the specific knowledges or discoveries which are always open to falsification.

Students are given a domain to explore, to ask questions of and draw conclusions. Unlike most other science pedagogies, these conclusions must be tested publicly. Persuasion of peers and the teacher is a critical part of the simulation of science, in this model. Jungck and Peterson argue for this not out of a social psychological perspective but drawing on sociological models of science such as those put forward by Bloor (1976) and Latour (1987) that emphasize the rhetoric, i.e., the persuasive moment, in science. Scientific knowledge must stand up to "trials of strength" (p. 78): questioning of peers, comparison with competing models, as well as logical and empirical scrutiny. The 3P's model asks students to put their knowledge claims to the same tests.

Time zone 3: Process Oriented Science Education

The student here is no longer merely a cognitive model maker, they are engaged in what Dewey called "occupations" and what has been called more recently authentic activities. But, like denizens in the two previous time zones, students and teachers are in some ways trapped in the classroom. Also, in trying to simulate science in the classroom questions of what real science consists of inevitably have to be raised. The former question is dealt with in time zone 5, and the latter in zone 4.

Time Zone 4: Philosophical and Historical Science Education

The 3P's draws heavily on the sociology of science in constructing its simulation of what "real" science does. But there are other disciplines that explore that question and come to radically different answers from Latour, Bloor, and others involved with science studies."