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Active science: Not just a pedagogical term

Written by: Robbie Campbell
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Robbie Campbell, Sheffield Hallam University, UK The problem with ‘active’ ‘Active science’ is a term in wide usage. For example, a quick search on the web shows the term to be used in curriculum programmes in the US (activatelearning.com); in a series of textbooks by reputable publishers, such as Hodder Education and Pearson; and commonly used by STEM Learning, a widely recognised resource and authority in science education. However, there are a diverse set of meanings of the term ‘active’ in the context of science education (Fitzgerald et al., 2019) and these meanings are often highly contested. The root word ‘active’ is often associated with how the subject is taught and what the students are doing (pedagogy), e.g. active learning or activity. It is used in cognitive science – ‘activate schema’ – to describe how students connect ideas to other ideas. Active science as a curriculum term, in relation to what is taught (curriculum) and how this is designed for

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References
  • Eisenkraft A (2003) Expanding the 5E model: A proposed 7E model emphasises ‘transfer of learning’ and the importance of eliciting prior understanding. The Science Teacher 70(6): 56–59.
  • Eisenkraft A (2016) Active Physics: A Project-Based Inquiry Approach. It's About Time Inc.
  • Fitzgerald M, Danaia L and McKinnon D (2019) Barriers inhibiting inquiry-based science teaching and potential solutions: Perceptions of positively inclined early adopters. Research in Science Education 49: 543–566.
  • Ofsted (2021) Research review series: Science. Available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/research-review-series-science/research-review-series-science (accessed 17 November 2021).
  • Young M and Muller J (2016) Curriculum and the Specialization of Knowledge: Studies in the Sociology of Education. Routledge. London.
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