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How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School
In June, the students no longer invoked anonymous agents, but put forward chains of hypotheses to explain phenomena, such as why children were getting sick (page 88):
Like, you could test what the kids ate and, like, test the water, too; it could be the water that isn’t good, that has microbes, that might have microscopic animals in it to make them sick.
The June interviews also showed that students had begun to develop a sense of the function and form of experimentation. They no longer depended on personal experience as evidence, but proposed experiments to test specific hypotheses. In response to a question about sick fish, Laure clearly understands how to find a scientific answer (page 91):
I’d put a fish in fresh water and one fish in a water full of garbage. I’d give the fresh water fish food to eat and the other one in the nasty water, I’d give it food to eat to see if the fresh water, if the one in the fresh water would die with the food I gave it, if the one in the dirty water would die with the food I gave it…. I would give them the same food to see if the things they eat in the water and the things I give them now, which will make them healthy and which wouldn’t make them healthy.
Teaching and learning in science have been influenced very directly by research studies on expertise (see Chapter 2). The examples discussed in this chapter focus on two areas of science teaching: physics and junior high school biology. Several of the teaching strategies illustrated ways to help students think about the general principles or “big” ideas in physics before jumping to formulas and equations. Others illustrate ways to help students engage in deliberate practice (see Chapter 3) and to monitor their progress.
Learning the strategies for scientific thinking have another objective: to develop thinking acumen needed to promote conceptual change. Often, the barrier to achieving insights to new solutions is rooted in a fundamental misconception about the subject matter. One strategy for helping students in physics begins with an “anchoring intuition” about a phenomenon and then gradually bridging it to related phenomena that are less intuitive to the student but involve the same physics principles. Another strategy involves the use of interactive lecture demonstrations to encourage students to make predictions, consider feedback, and then reconceptualize phenomena.
The example of Chèche Konnen demonstrates the power of a sense-making approach to science learning that builds on the knowledge that students bring with them to school from their home cultures, including their familiar discourse practices. Students learned to think, talk, and act scientifically, and their first and second languages mediated their learning in power-