Epistemic practices and science education

, and . History, Philosophy and Science Teaching, Springer, (2018)


Epistemic practices are the socially organized and interactionally accomplished ways that members of a group propose, communicate, assess, and legitimize knowledge claims. Drawing from studies of science and education, this chapter argues that epistemic practices are interactional (constructed among people through concerted activity), contextual (situated in social practices and cultural norms), intertextual (communicated through a history of coherent discourses, signs, and symbols), and consequential (legitimized knowledge instantiates power and culture). Through a review of science studies, the argument for the relevance of a focus on epistemic practices is developed. This chapter draws from the empirical studies of scientific practice to derive implications for science teaching and learning. There has been considerable empirical work from multiple disciplinary perspectives (cognitive science, sociology, anthropology, and rhetoric) informing perspectives about science and the inner workings of scientific communities. These studies examine the practices, discourses, and cultures of scientists and scientific communities. These perspectives are applied to three types of educational approaches for science learning (through inquiry, engineering, and socioscientific issues) to examine ways that engaging in epistemic practices supports goals of scientific literacy. The chapter shows how a focus on the knowledge construction processes in schools offers contributions to thinking about science education.

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