home - login - register

Critical Classroom Structures for Empowering Students to Participate in Science Discourse Documents

Main Document

Critical Classroom Structures for Empowering Students to Participate in Science Discourse 

written by Shelly N. Belleau and Valerie K. Otero

We compared contextual characteristics that impacted the nature and substance of "summarizing discussions" in a physics and a chemistry classroom in an Hispanic-serving urban high school. Specifically, we evaluated structural components of curricula and classrooms necessary to develop a culture of critical inquiry. Using the Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) curriculum in the physics course, we found that students demonstrated critical thinking, critical evaluation, and used laboratory evidence to support ideas in whole-class summarizing discussions. We then implemented a model similar to PET in the chemistry course. However, chemistry students' statements lacked evidence, opposition and critical evaluation, and required greater teacher facilitation. We hypothesize that the designed laboratories and the research basis of PET influenced the extent to which physics students verbalized substantive scientific thought, authentic appeals to evidence, and a sense of empowerment to participate in the classroom scientific community.

Published January 24, 2013
Last Modified July 31, 2013