to read

I’ve been asked to put together a reading list for an independent study for a graduate student in science ed.  Of course I thought this would be a good idea, and I still believe it is.  The question that’s more pertinent is, “What makes a good science ed reading list?”


I first thought of myself.  And, I first thought of what would be easiest for me to talk to.  So, I have a list of conceptual change theory readings and nature of science readings that I’ve already read.  But I also started staring over at a “Reader in Science Education” from Routledge and edited by John Gilbert.  British.  I always like British, and more importantly I like the idea of the book because it’s similar to what I’m supposed to be working on.

[As an aside, I have to admit to myself that what “I’m supposed to be working on” is a book for which I haven’t even created a prospectus.  I don’t see this as a huge roadblock; I’m just a step behind in the process.]

So now I’ve amassed a list of readings that I’ve read (several times) that I think would be good for someone getting into science ed research, starting with the basics and then cutting edge of conceptual change:
Posner, G., Strike, K., Hewson, P., & Gertzog, W. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change. Science Education, 66(2), 211-227.
Strike, K. A., & Posner, G. J. (1985). A conceptual change view of learning and understanding, Cognitive Structure and Conceptual Change (pp. 211-232). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
Strike, K. A., & Posner, G. J. (1992). A revisionist theory of conceptual change. In R. A. Dushl & R. J. Hamilton (Eds.), Philosophy of Science, Cognitive Psychology, and Educational Theory and Practice (pp. 147-176). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Chi, M. T. H. & Roscoe R.D. (2002). The processes and challenges of conceptual change. In Reconsidering Conceptual Change: Issues in Theory and Practice (pp. 3-28). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.
diSessa A. A. (2002). Why “conceptual ecology” is a good idea. In Reconsidering Conceptual Change: Issues in Theory and Practice (pp. 3-28). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

and some nature of science primers:
Settlage, J., & Southerland, S. A. (2007). The Nature of Science. In Teaching Science to Every Child: Using Culture as a Starting Point (pp. 185-209). New York: Taylor & Francis.
McComas, W. F. (1996). Ten myths of science: Reexamining what we think we know . . . School Science and Mathematics, 96(1), 10-16.
Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations:  The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (New York:  Harper Torchbooks, 1963), pp. 33-39, 52-55.
Smith, M. U., & Scharmann, L. C. (1999). Defining versus describing the nature of science: A pragmatic analysis for classroom teachers and science educators. Science Education, 83(4), 493-509.

followed by the edited volume on the state of science education right now . . . or at least as it was in the UK in 2004.  

I actively ponder if this is all a good idea.  I wonder how much of my own sabbatical should be so freewheeling that I don’t have to be accountable to anything (that will never really happen), versus having a sabbatical that is completely tied to specific commitments (also will never happen).  As of now (Day 4), I’ve been liking the idea of not having a deadline or any list that I need to get done, but still there’s a list in my own head as well as in the sabbatical proposal itself.

And Dewey is still sitting here on the shelf, and I still need to finish out my professional file, since I’m also under review for promotion while I’m on sabbatical.  Sure, I could have finished all that before I started, but . . . well, I didn’t.  

I think the Gilbert volume actually is interesting and necessary.  So, following a few conceptual ecology considerations, re-reads, and free writes, I’m going to tap into that.  I’m reminding myself that I can’t just sit at a computer — I really really need to read and read some more.  I have a tendency to think that reading is getting in the way of writing.  The Billy Collins interview I’m editing right now is reminding me of that.  Although I don’t agree with all of Collins’ views of learning (in large part due to the fact that we’re in different fields and teach different students), I have to heed his advice about the importance of reading other works.  He (as well as others who are wise enough) will readily scoff at the student who says essentially, “I’m not going to read anything because it will compromise my genius.”  I think I have a tendency to want to write without reading as much, not so much because I fear “it will compromise my genius,” but because I think that reading is much harder than writing.  I feel much more productive when I’m writing.

So maybe there’s the excuse for writing this.

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