tion of oneself as an actor into the context of the investigation appear to serve as important resources for meaning making and discovery (Ochs, Gonzales, and Jacoby, 1996). Over the 15 years of its existence, the Cheche Konnen program has been demonstrating that urban, language-minority students can engage in high-level scientific reasoning and problem solving if they are taught in ways that respect their interests and sense-making (Hudicourt-Barnes, 2003).


Engagement with science begins with willingness to participate in the science classroom, but it must go beyond simply participating to participating in ways that advance science learning. Engle and Conant’s (2002) definition of “productive disciplinary engagement” is a useful frame for thinking about active engagement in the classroom that is grounded in disciplinary norms for both social and cognitive activity. In their view, productive disciplinary engagement refers to classrooms in which “there is contact between what students are doing and the issues and practices of a discipline’s discourse” (Engle and Conant, 2002, p. 402). Furthermore, “students’ engagement is productive to the extent that they make intellectual progress. What constitutes productivity depends on the discipline, the specific task and topic, and where students are when they begin addressing a problem” (p. 403). They further distinguish how engagement and disciplinary engagement might be distinct from productive disciplinary engagement.

Engle and Conant define engagement in terms of students actively speaking, listening, responding, and working and high levels of on-task behavior. Greater engagement can be inferred when more students in the group make substantive contributions to the topic under discussion and their contributions are made in coordination with each other. Engagement also means that students attend to each other, express emotional involvement, and spontaneously reengage with the topic and continue with it over a sustained period of time. Finally, it means that few students are involved in unrelated or off-task activities.

These hallmarks of engagement do not, however, ensure that students are engaged in meaningful ways with the discipline of science. Disciplinary engagement expands to include scientific content and experimental activities (including argumentation based on logic and data patterns). For disciplinary engagement to occur, there must be “some contact between what students are doing and the issues and practices of a discipline’s discourse” (Engle and Conant, 2002, p. 402). Herrenkohl and Guerra (1998) suggest that some identifying features of disciplinary engagement in science include (1) monitoring comprehension, that is, students asking questions to be sure that they fully understand perspectives posed by other students; (2) chal-

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