Advertisement

Moving Beyond the Gold Standard: Epistemological and Ontological Considerations of Research in Science Literacy

  • Donna E. AlvermannEmail author
  • Christine A. MallozziEmail author
Chapter

What goes around, comes around is a maxim that seemingly applies more and more often to the current debate in the United States over what constitutes the scientific label in education research. At the time of writing this chapter, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, 2002), which calls for, among other things, scientifically based reading methods and materials, is up for reauthorization. With it have come challenges to the federal government's role in legislating what counts as scientifically valid research through the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA, 2002). The provisions of this law, at least as enacted, have effectively equated scientifically valid research to randomized controlled trials (RCT)—or what is commonly known as the Gold Standard in education research circles. Prior to the passage of ESRA, the National Research Council (NRC) in its publication Scientific Research in Education had criticized the proposed bill for attempting to mandate “a list of ‘valid’ scientific methods … [a list which] erroneously assumes that science is mechanistic and thus can be prescribed” (US NRC, 2002, p. 130). More recently, groups—such as the Knowledge Alliance (a Washington, DC, firm representing a mix of researchers and research and development centers), the American Educational Research Association, and the Software & Information Industry Association—have voiced their opposition to ESRA's definition of scientifically valid research. Perhaps not surprisingly, language in a recent House of Representatives draft of a bill to reauthorize NCLB would omit references to randomized studies. In its place, the proposal would define scientifically valid research as being “rigorous, systematic, and objective … [and] appropriate to the methods used” (Viadero, 2007, The Gold Standard section, para 6).

Whether or not this attempt to move away from the one-size-fits-all Gold Standard makes its way into reauthorized legislation is yet to be seen. In the interim (and for the purpose of this chapter), we intend to explore how methodological border crossings among researchers in language, literacy, and science education can enrich curricular conversations about teaching and learning in science classrooms. To chart this terrain, we begin by providing a cursory view of the relation of language and literacy to science teaching and learning. We then offer a window into our thinking on how Gold Standard policies have sanctioned certain kinds of research and curricular development while discouraging other types, thus potentially narrowing the range of information about science literacy practices that teachers have at their disposal. To address this situation, we examine the assumptions underlying five different dimensions or styles of doing research for the express purpose of looking for ways to open up, at least partially, what we view as an overly restrictive, one-size-fits-all approach to science literacy research in the United States.

Keywords

Science Teaching Probabilistic Prediction Correspondence Theory Coherence Theory Valid Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Akkus, R., Gunel, M., & Hand, B. (2007). Comparing an inquiry-based approach known as the science writing heuristic to traditional science teaching practices: Are there differences? International Journal of Science Education, 29(14), 1745–1765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alvermann, D. E. (in press). Sociocultural constructions of adolescence and young people's literacies. In L. Christenbury, R. Bomer, & P. Smagorinsky (Eds.), Handbook of research on adolescent literacy. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  3. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1990). Science for all Americans: Project 2061. New York: Oxford University Press. Available from http://www.project2061. org/publications/sfaa/online/sfaatoc.htm
  4. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy: Project 2061. New York: Oxford University Press. Available from http://www.project2061. org/publications/bsl/online/index.php?txtRef = &txtURIOld = %2Fpublications%2Fbsl%2 Fonline%2Fbolintro%2Ehtm
  5. Anderson, J. O., Lin, H. L., Treagust, D. F., Ross, S. P., & Yore, L. D. (2007). Using large-scale assessment datasets for research in science and mathematics education: Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). International Journal of Science & Mathematics Education, 5(4), 591–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aufschnaiter, C., von, Erduran, S., Osborne, J., & Simon, S. (2008). Arguing to learn and learning to argue: Case studies of how students' argumentation relates to their scientific knowledge. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(1), 101–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coburn, C. E. (2006). Framing the problem of reading instruction: Using frame analysis to uncover the microprocesses of policy implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 43(3), 343–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cope, B., Kalantzis, M., & New London Group (Eds.). (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Cunningham, J. W., Many, J. E., Carver, R. P., Gunderson, L., & Mosenthal, P. B. (2000). How will literacy be defined in the new millennium? [RRQ Snippet]. Reading Research Quarterly, 35(1), 64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dewey, J. (1916). Education and democracy. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002. Pub. L. No. 107–279, 116 Stat. 1940. (2002).Google Scholar
  12. Fisher, D., & Ivey, G. (2005). Literacy and language as learning in content-area classes: A departure from “Every teacher a teacher of reading”. Action in Teacher Education, 27(2), 3–11.Google Scholar
  13. Florence, M. K., & Yore, L. D. (2004). Learning to write like a scientist: Coauthoring as an encul-turation task. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(6), 637–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ford, M. J., & Forman, E. A. (2006). Redefining disciplinary learning in classroom contexts. Review of Research in Education, 30(1), 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Freeman, M., DeMarrais, K., Preissle, J., Roulston, K., & St Pierre, E. A. (2007). Standards of evidence in qualitative research: An incitement to discourse. Educational Researcher, 36(1), 25–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gee, J. P. (1990). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
  17. Gergen, M. M., & Gergen, K. J. (2000). Qualitative inquiry: Tensions and transformations. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (2nd edn., pp. 1025–1046). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1989). Fourth generation evaluation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Hand, B., Alvermann, D. E., Gee, J. P., Guzzetti, B. J., Norris, S. P., Phillips, L. M., et al. (2003). Message from the “Island group”: What is literacy in science literacy? [Guest editorial]. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(7), 607–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hasbrouck, J. E., Woldbeck, T., Ihnot, C., & Parker, R. I. (1999). One teacher's use of curriculum-based measurement: A changed opinion. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 14(2), 118–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Holland, D. C., Lachicotte, W., Skinner, D., & Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Jewitt, C., & Kress, G. R. (Eds.). (2003). Multimodal literacy. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  24. Kress, G. R. (1996). Before writing: Rethinking the paths to literacy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Kress, G. R., & Leeuwen, T., van. (1996). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2006). New literacies: Everyday practices and classroom learning (2nd edn.). Berkshire, UK: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2006). Scientific thinking and scientific literacy. In W. Damon, R. Lerner, K. A. Renninger, & E. Sigel (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology (6th edn., Vol. 4, pp. 153–196). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  29. Lehrer, R., Schauble, L., & Petrosino, A. J. (2001). Reconsidering the role of experiment in science education. In K. D. Crowley, C. D. Schunn, & T. Ikada (Eds.), Designing for science: Implications from everyday, classroom, and professional settings (pp. 251–278). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  30. Lemke, J. L. (1989). Social semiotics: A new model for literacy education. In D. Bloome (Ed.), Classrooms and literacy (pp. 289–309). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  31. Lemke, J. L. (2004). The literacies of science. In E. W. Saul (Ed.), Crossing borders in literacy and science instruction: Perspectives on theory and practice (pp. 33–47). Newark, DE: International Reading Association & National Science Teachers Association.Google Scholar
  32. Linn, M. C., & Eylon, B. S. (2006). Science education: Integrating views of learning and instruction. In P. A. Alexander & P. H. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (2nd edn., pp. 511–544). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Lissitz, R. W., & Samuelsen, K. (2007). A suggested change in terminology and emphasis regarding validity and education. Educational Researcher, 36(8), 437–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Maxwell, J. A. (2004). Causal explanation, qualitative research, and scientific inquiry in education. Educational Researcher, 33(2), 3–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moje, E. B., Peek-Brown, D., Sutherland, L. M., Marx, R. W., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Krajcik, J. S. (2004). Explaining explanations. In D. S. Strickland & D. E. Alvermann (Eds.), Bridging the literacy achievement gap, grades 4–12 (pp. 227–251). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  36. Moje, E. B., Young, J. P., Readence, J. E., & Moore, D. W. (2000). Reinventing adolescent literacy for new times: Perennial and millennial issues. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 43(5), 400–411.Google Scholar
  37. Moore, D. W., Readence, J. E., & Rickelman, R. J. (1983). An historical exploration of content area reading instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 18(4), 419–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(Spring), 60–91.Google Scholar
  39. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Pub. L. No. 107–110, 115 Stat. 1425. (2002).Google Scholar
  40. Norris, S. P., & Phillips, L. M. (2003). How literacy in its fundamental sense is central to scientific literacy. Science Education, 87(2), 224–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2003). The PISA 2003 assessment framework — mathematics, reading, science and problem solving: Knowledge and skills. Paris: Author.Google Scholar
  42. Osborne, J., Erduran, S., & Simon, S. (2004). Enhancing the quality of argumentation in school science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(10), 994–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Partnership of 21st Century Skills. (2007). Beyond the 3 Rs: Voter attitudes toward 21st century skills. Tucson, AZ: Author.Google Scholar
  44. Prain, V., & Hand, B. (1996). Writing for learning in secondary science: Rethinking practices. Teaching and Teacher Education, 12(6), 609–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Raudenbush, S. W. (2005). Learning from attempts to improve schooling: The contribution of methodological diversity. Educational Researcher, 34(5), 25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Roehrig, G. H., Kruse, R. A., & Kern, A. (2007). Teacher and school characteristics and their influence on curriculum implementation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(7), 883–907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Simon, S., Erduran, S., & Osborne, J. (2006). Learning to teach argumentation: Research and development in the science classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 28(2/3), 235–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stanovich, K. E. (2003). Understanding the styles of science in the study of reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 7(2), 105–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Staver, J. R. (1998). Constructivism: Sound theory for explicating the practice of science and science teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(5), 501–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Street, B. V. (1995). Social literacies: Critical approaches to literacy development, ethnography, and education. Harlow, UK: Longman.Google Scholar
  51. Street, B. V. (2003). Foreword. In J. Collins & R. K. Blot (Eds.), Literacy and literacies: Texts, power, and identity (pp. xi–xv). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Tippett, C. D. (in press). Argumentation: The language of science. Journal of Elementary Science Education.Google Scholar
  53. Toulmin, S. E. (1958). The uses of argument. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Tsai, C. C. (2002). A science teacher's reflections and knowledge growth about STS instruction after actual implementation. Science Education, 86(1), 23–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2004). The plurality of literacy and its implications for policies and programmes (UNESCO Education Sector position paper). Paris: Author.Google Scholar
  56. United States Department of Education. (2007). Fiscal year 2008 budget: Summary and background information. Retrieved May 7, 2008, from http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/ budget08/summary/08summary.pdf
  57. United States Institute of Education Sciences. (n.d.). What Works Clearinghouse overview: Standards. Retrieved May 6, 2008, from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/overview/review.asp?ag = pi
  58. United States National Institutes of Health. (2007). Summary of the FY 2008 President's budget. Retrieved May 6, 2008, from http://officeofbudget.od.nih.gov/PDF/Press%20info-2008.pdf
  59. United States National Research Council. (1996). The national science education standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog. php?record_id = 4962
  60. United States National Research Council. (2002). Scientific research in education. Committee on Scientific Principles for Education Research. R. J. Shavelson & L. Towne (Eds.). Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  61. United States National Research Council. (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K-8. Committee on Science Learning, Kindergarten through Eighth Grade. R. A. Duschl, H. A. Schweingruber, & A. W. Shouse (Eds.). Board on Science Education, Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  62. United States National Science Foundation. (2007). FY 2008 budget request to Congress. Retrieved June 17, 2008, from http://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2008/index.jsp
  63. Varelas, M., & Pappas, C. C. (2006). Intertextuality in read-alouds of integrated science-literacy units in urban primary classrooms: Opportunities for the development of thought and language. Cognition and Instruction, 24(2), 211–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Viadero, D. (2007). ‘Scientific’ label in law stirs debate. Education Week, 27(1), 23.Google Scholar
  65. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Wallace, C. S., Hand, B., & Yang, E. M. (2004). The science writing heuristic: Using writing as a tool for learning in the laboratory. In E. W. Saul (Ed.), Crossing borders in literacy and science instruction: Perspectives on theory and practice (pp. 355–368). Newark, DE: International Reading Association & National Science Teachers Association.Google Scholar
  67. Yore, L. D., Florence, M. K., Pearson, T. W., & Weaver, A. J. (2006). Written discourse in scientific communities: A conversation with two scientists about their views of science, use of language, role of writing in doing science, and compatibility between their epistemic views and language. International Journal of Science Education, 28(2/3), 109–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Yore, L. D., Hand, B., & Florence, M. K. (2004). Scientists' views of science, models of writing, and science writing practices. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(4), 338–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Yore, L. D., Hand, B. M., Goldman, S. R., Hildebrand, G. M., Osborne, J. F., Treagust, D. F., et al. (2004). New directions in language and science education research. Reading Research Quarterly, 39(3), 347–352.Google Scholar
  70. Yore, L. D., Pimm, D., & Tuan, H. L. (2007). The literacy component of mathematical and scientific literacy. International Journal of Science & Mathematics Education, 5(4), 559–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language & Literacy EducationUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations