Exploring opportunities for reconceptualizing place-based science education as a three-way dance of agency

No Thumbnail Available
Salisbury, Sara
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
Teaching science involves designing learning experiences that attend to a complex set of relationships between students, the discipline of science, and the places where science experiences are carried out. Unfortunately, with traditional approaches to K-12 science instruction, contributions to learning from students and places are often overlooked as educators seek to create disciplinary experiences that increase science learning outcomes that are measurable, repeatable, and standardized. Place-based science education seeks to push back on traditional science education approaches, and create opportunities for children, places, and disciplines to equitably take up their agency and influence the learning experiences. However, the way these agents interact in place-based science education experiences in K-12 settings is still largely unknown. Therefore, to gain a greater understanding of how these agents interact, this work explores the design, implementation, and outcomes of a Place-Based Science Education (PBSE) learning experience that equitably positions children, a place, and the discipline of science. To do this, I completed a design-based research project where I developed two science investigations that engaged 6th grade science students in the exploration of “variation” in their schoolyard ecosystem. I analyzed a variety of data from these two investigations to characterize children’s knowledge, experiences during the instructional design, and subsequent learning outcomes. I also characterized the nature of interactions amongst children, the material world, and the discipline of science.
Agency, Design-based research, Modeling, Outdoor education, Place-based education, Science-as-practice, Science education, Mathematics education