Ethnographic Studies of School Science and Science Communities
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In this dissertation I used the anthropological and sociocultural perspectives to examine the culture of school science and science communities. I conducted three independent studies. The first study is a meta-ethnography of three well-known case studies published in the literature. I analyzed these studies in order to identify the distinct characteristics of scientific communities and portray a picture of how science is practiced. The meta-ethnographic analysis reveals aspects of scientific practice that are insightful for the science educators and curriculum developers because these aspects are often neglected in school science even though they explain how science is done and accomplished in science communities. In the second study, I conducted an ethnographic research to explore the distinct characteristics of a scientific-engineering community. How the community members worked in collaboration as they conducted their research, how they negotiated and mutually agreed upon as they interacted and communicated with one and another and what they have learned through the process of these interactions were the units of the analyses. Findings reveal that the lead scientists' different working styles in the research center orchestrated learning and research. Ongoing communication and interdisciplinarity initiated collaborative partnerships with other communities and allowed the research groups to generate a shared repertoire to pursue the novelty in the process of knowledge generation. Mentorship was a catalyst for enculturation process, and it was on the trajectory of becoming an engineering university faculty. In the third study, I observed a science classroom over a period of time to explore the socio-cultural aspects of learning. I examined the social practices and the participants' interactions that establish and maintain participation, community, and meaning. In my analysis I investigated the extent to which students' participation and interaction formed a community of practice and fostered learning science. The three studies highlight the distinct characteristics of school science communities and science communities that are of importance for the efforts to better design learning environments. Translating the everyday activities of scientists and engineering researchers into school science communities can help enhance students' science learning experiences and cultivate a more informed understanding of science and engineering.
communities of practice
Ayar, Mehmet (2012). Ethnographic Studies of School Science and Science Communities. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from