Science of learning is learning of science: why we need a dialectical approach to science education research
Research on learning science in informal settings and the formal (sometimes experimental) study of learning in classrooms or psychological laboratories tend to be separate domains, even drawing on different theories and methods. These differences make it dif?cult to compare knowing and learning observed in one paradigm/context with those observed in the other. Even more interestingly, the scientists studying science learning rarely consider their own learning in relation to the phenomena they study. A dialectical, re?exive approach to learning, however, would theorize the movement of an educational science (its learning and development) as a special and general case-subject matter and method-of the phenomenon of learning (in/of) science. In the dialectical approach to the study of science learning, therefore, subject matter, method, and theory fall together. This allows for a perspective in which not only disparate ?elds of study-school science learning and learning in everyday life-are integrated but also where the progress in the science of science learning coincides with its topic. Following the articulation of a contradictory situation on comparing learning in different settings, I describe the dialectical approach. As a way of providing a concrete example, I then trace the historical movement of my own research group as it simultaneously and alternately studied science learning in formal and informal settings. I conclude by recommending cultural-historical, dialectical approaches to learning and interaction analysis as a context for fruitful interdisciplinary research on science learning within and across different settings.
Cultural Studies of Science Education
Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy