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Constructing Theoretical Foundations of Immersive Learning Environments



Constructing Theoretical Foundations of Immersive Learning Environments This conceptual study aims to provide theoretical foundations for immersive learning environments. As the importance of science learning is not only about building and organizing scientific knowledge but also needs to consider how to support students’ understandings about using that knowledge. To untangle complex problems in real-life situations, students need to know how to use knowledge and skills of science practices in appropriate and flexible ways. Based on theoretical research studies about language, learning, and adaptiveness, we developed the Immersive Learning Environment (ILE) model. We will discuss critical components of the ILE model in light of the idea of resource development-centered learning environments. By introducing three fundamental frameworks of the ILE model—language, argument, and dialogical interactions, we hold discussions about how the optimal science learning environments look like.
Constructing Theoretical Foundations of
Immersive Learning Environments
Yejun Bae, Ali Cikmaz, and Brian Hand
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA (USA)
Traditional instruction-focused argument-based inquiry approaches overlook the
role of language practices in science learning (Cavagnetto, 2010).
If a science classroom fails to notice the role of language practices, students are
more likely to repeat routine activities such as filling out a universal
standardized science lab template — hypothesis, methods, results, and
Students’ learning experiences are far away from building practical competence
if they mostly concentrate on finding the right answers to a teachers question
instead of exploring their own questions and searching for answers through
language practices.
Adaptive Expertise (Hatano &Inagaki, 1986)
As global issues (e.g., climate change and resource depletion) becomes more
complex, utilizing adaptive expertise, which is an ability to perform complicated
tasks through innovative problem solving, becomes increasingly important.
Scientific literacy can be a type of adaptive expertise because it requires flexible
utilization of scientific knowledge and skills (intellectual resources) to solve
complex problems.
Engaging in epistemic practices – utilizing language, initiating argumentation,
and negotiating ideas through dialogical interaction is essential to foster scientific
Immersive Learning Environments (ILE;Cavagnetto, 2010)
Cavagnetto (2010) defines immersive learning environments as approaches that
promote students’ epistemic growth through argument-embedded scientific
investigation while building understandings of scientific concepts.
In the ILEs, students mostly carry out scientific investigation, dialogical
interactions within argument, which is necessary to foster scientific literacy.
The ILEs support students to build adaptive expertise through the complexity of
learning task. The complexity of learning tasks can be seen as two levels of
students’engagement, local levels and global levels (Elen & Clark, 2006).
(1) Local levels: complex interactions among personal competences.
e.g., students actively search useful resources to make claims based
-on evidence.
(2) Global levels: dynamic interactions among learners. e.g.,
students actively negotiate ideas by providing different ideas.
The ILEs include four interactive phases:
Phase 1. Developing phase
Phase 2. Building Intellectual Resources
Phase 3. Living Phase
Phase 4. Adaptive Expertise
In Science Writing Heuristics (SWH) (Cavagnetto, Hand, & Norton‐Meier, 2010;
Hand, 2008; Keys & Hand, 1999) class,
Class starts with students’ questions and whole group discussions about big
Students decide how they will conduct experiments to find answers to their
Based on data analysis and interpretation, students come up with claims, and
argue them by providing evidence until they reach to an agreement.
Through this whole learning process, students naturally engage with verbal and
written arguments, which are key language practices in ILEs.
Cavagnetto, A. R. (2010). Argument to foster scientific literacy: A review of argument interventions in
K–12 science contexts. Review of Educational Research, 80(3), 336-371.
Cavagnetto, A., Hand, B. M., & Norton‐Meier, L. (2010). The nature of elementary student science
discourse in the context of the science writing heuristic approach. International Journal of Science
Education, 32(4), 427-449.
Elen, J., & Clark, R. E. (Eds.). (2006). Handling complexity in learning environments: Theory and
research. Emerald Group Publishing.
Hand, B. (2008). Introducing the science writing heuristic approach. Science inquiry, argument and
language: A case for the science writing heuristic. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.
Hand, B., & Keys, C. W. (1999). Inquiry investigation. The Science Teacher, 66(4), 27.
Hatano, G., & Inagaki, K. (1986). Two courses of expertise. Research & Clinical Center for Child
COLLEGE OF Leaders. Scholars. Innovators.
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