Productive Management of Uncertainty: Supporting science teachers to raise, maintain and reduce uncertainty toward student conceptual development in argumentation
Principal investigatorYing-Chih Chen
Award start date07/01/2018
Award end date06/30/2019
Originating sponsorMary Lou Fulton Teachers College
In their Framework for K–12 Science Standards, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine define scientific knowledge as “a particular kind of knowledge with its own sources, justifications, ways of dealing with uncertainties and agreed-on levels of certainty.” Yet traditional school science emphasizes discoveries in their final forms, with little opportunity for students to experience how knowledge is developed — including the importance of uncertainty. Teachers and students can find it difficult to manage uncertainty while constructing a mutual understanding, making uncertainty detrimental to learning. Argumentation, a dialogic practice pervaded by uncertainty, engages students in considering multiple and contradictory claims of varying degrees of uncertainty to resolve disagreement. Few studies have explored argumentation as an enterprise of uncertainty management: how uncertainty is raised, the resources for managing uncertainty, how uncertainty progresses discussion, and how uncertainty is resolved and reduced to contribute to conceptual development.
Findings and impact
Chen’s project will commence in July 2018, with evaluation in May/June 2019. Results will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education and the International Journal of Science Education; and practitioner-based journals such as Science and Children, Science Scope and Science Activities. The project will also provide empirical evidence for a project proposal to the National Science Foundation’s CAREER and Discovery Research PreK–12 programs, and for a small-grant proposal to the Spencer Foundation.