The role of dialogic argumentation in science education for decision-making

A common rationale for science education is that learning science improves decision-making. It is argued that students will develop a strong understanding of the ideas and nature of science, which will inform their decisions. Toward this goal, science classroom activities aim to develop students’ scientific literacy, including their capacity to engage meaningfully with scientific ideas. Ideas about the nature of science are advanced through scientific inquiry, with emphasis on developing students’ capacity to articulate scientific explanations for phenomena. The success of this approach for developing students’ scientific literacy is demonstrated. However, evidence to support the success of this approach for students’ decision-making is scant.

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How to make a school system mediocre

When policy discourse and leadership conversations are framed around those who “can’t,” “won’t,” or “don’t” make decisions to the satisfaction of others, the predictable response is to take away that decision-making agency by prescribing pedagogical practices to them (or to implement a program that impacts on pedagogical practices in a predictable way). Ultimately, these attempts to control the decisions of mediocre teachers reduce the agency of other teachers to make decisions, too.

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Four critical questions to ask when attending education research conferences

Have fun, participate in discussions, share your ideas, and challenge (respectfully) the ideas of others. But most importantly, ask the critical questions of who is speaking (and ask about who is not), question speakers about what they’re claiming and the basis for those claims, look at how the narrative of the conference portrays and constructs education in Australia. Try to uncover who’s paying and what they’re paying for.

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Certainty and open-mindedness in science

One of the hardest ideas about science to communicate is that we can never be absolutely certain in what it is we “know” through science. We must always be open-minded that our knowledge of the world might be wrong. However, the way that we teach science communicates certainty. This is a problem.

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Specialist science and maths teachers in primary schools are not the solution

One of the great strengths of a primary education is the opportunity to integrate content across subjects, and be flexible with when, where, and how to teach subjects, capabilities, and key ideas across the school week, term, and year.

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Hypothetical learning styles (modalities)

As teachers, our decisions about these will also be informed by the students in our class, who they are, what they already know and understand, what their particular needs and interests are, but it would not be necessary or even helpful to know if they are a ‘visual learner,’ and it would be downright unhelpful to limit learners’ access to particular modes on this basis.

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The role of evidence in teachers’ professional decision making

In this post, I worry that an emphasis on evidence-based practice would lead to prescribed practice, which would narrow teachers’ opportunities and options for making their own decisions about practice. I will discuss the role of a teacher, and the purpose of education. Next, I will discuss the role of cultural and instrumental research, and suggest that education research holds a unique role for informing education practice. I will take a closer look at what ‘evidence’ is, what forms of data are collected, and some of the limitations of evidence. Finally, I will look at the other sources of information teachers can use to make decisions, caution against taking evidence at face value, and plead for the time, space, and access to research that teachers require to make decisions.

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