Modes of Engagement in Science Inquiry: A Microanalysis of Elementary Students' Orientations toward Phenomena at a Summer Science Camp

Alex Rath, David E Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Most science educators advocate the importance of hands-on activities for learning in science. However, little research has been directed at understanding the students' orientations toward phenomena and the ways in which these orientations influence the learning experience. Through microanalyses of videotape data of a summer science camp for elementary school children, we characterize students' orientations when exploring natural phenomena as modes of engagement. The six frequently observed orientations toward phenomena include exploration mode (to find out about the object and study its basic properties), engineering mode (a focus on making something happen), pet care mode (a personal connection focused on nurturing), procedural mode (an imitation and step-following orientation), performance mode (soliciting attention using the phenomenon as a prop), and fantasy mode (an imaginative play activity which builds on some aspect of the phenomena). These modes of engagement helped provide personal contexts in which the students' interactions with phenomena took shape, and these modes were arguably as important an influence on personal contexts as other conceptual or contextual influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1097
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Volume33
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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