hold with confidence. This entails embracing a point of view as possible and worthy of further investigation, but subject to careful scrutiny and consideration of alternative perspectives (which may be deemed more valuable in the end).
To understand science, one must use science and do so in a manner that reflects the values of scientific practice. Participation is premised on a view that science and scientific knowledge are valuable and interesting, seeing oneself as an effective learner and participant in science, and the belief that steady effort in understanding science pays off. These attitudes toward science and science learning develop as a consequence of students’ experience of educational, social, and cultural environments. The educational environment in particular is an important influence on how students view themselves as science learners and whether they feel supported to participate fully in the scientific community of the classroom.
Viewing the science classroom as a scientific community akin to communities in professional science is advantageous (although K-8 students are clearly not engaged in professional science). Science advances in large part through interactions among members of research communities as they test new ideas, solicit and provide feedback, articulate and evaluate emerging explanations, develop shared representations and models, and reach consensus. Likewise, participation in scientific practices in the classroom helps students advance their understanding of scientific argumentation and explanations; engage in the construction of scientific evidence, representations, and models; and reflect on how scientific knowledge is constructed.
To participate fully in the scientific practices in the classroom, students need to develop a shared understanding of the norms of participation in science. This includes social norms for constructing and presenting a scientific argument and engaging in scientific debates. It also includes habits of mind, such as adopting a critical stance, a willingness to ask questions and seek help, and developing a sense of appropriate trust and skepticism.
Interconnections among the strands in the process of learning are supported by research, although the strength of the research evidence varies across the strands. The cognitive research literatures support the value of teaching content in the context of the practices of science. For example, the knowledge factor, that is, the depth of one’s knowledge of the domain, has repeatedly been identified as a primary factor in the power or limitations of one’s scientific reasoning (Brewer and Samarapungavan, 1991; Brown, 1990;