Examining Growth and Interdependence of Epistemic Tools in Different Learning Environments

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The purpose of this research is to examine growth and interdependency of epistemic tools –language, argument, and dialogic interactions- in two different learning environments (Argument-Based Inquiry [ABI] vs Traditional Inquiry). Epistemic tools may help students to come to know the scientific concepts. NGSS framework reflects this approach to epistemic tools through emphasis on scientific practices that promotes argument, language, and dialogic interactions –not the replication of science knowledge and science language. For this study, 490 lab reports, which is collected from a cohort of college freshmen (n=30) who took both Physics I (Traditional Inquiry) and Chemistry I (ABI) lab courses in the same semester, were scored to quantify students’ quality of argument and multimodal representation (MMR) use. In this longitudinal study, Physics and Chemistry courses were compared based on MMR and argument growth across the semester by employing linear mixed effect model analysis. The results provide evidence of greater benefits from ABI than traditional inquiry on students’ quality of argument and MMR use. The findings also show that these abilities can increase quickly and then begin to reach a stable level after just several weeks. Moreover, the growth of argument and MMR use are significantly related.

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We report on the development of a new instrument for measuring teachers' knowledge of language as an epistemic tool in science classes. Language is essential for science learning, as all learning requires the use of language to constitute one's own ideas and to engage with others' ideas. Teachers with knowledge of language as an epistemic tool can recognize the ways that language allows students to generate and validate knowledge for themselves, rather than to replicate canonical knowledge transmitted by other sources. We used a construct‐driven development approach with iterations of domain analysis, item revision, teacher feedback, expert review, and item piloting to address the content, substance, and structure aspects of validity. Data from 158 preservice and in‐service teachers on 27 preliminary items were collected. Findings from Rasch measurement modeling indicate a single dimension fits the items well and can distinguish teachers of higher and lower knowledge. We revised and selected 15 items for an updated instrument. This contributes to ongoing measurement projects and provides a potential instrument for future, broader use by the field to gauge teachers' knowledge of language as an epistemic tool.
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