Opportunities and tensions in family science: challenging dominant paradigms of science education

Shelley Goldman, Megan R. Luce, Tanner Vea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We design and research family-based science experiences that provide opportunities to enact discovery-oriented approaches to science learning that challenge dominant conceptions of what counts as science learning by bringing families’ sensemaking to the forefront. We engaged two approaches. First, we provided families with simple activity prompts and conversation starters for engaging in playful and exploratory science-relevant experiences on their own. Second, we explicitly explored families’ views of science during family science evenings at their children’s school. The different contexts helped us learn how families take up or resist efforts toward a family-centric view of science learning. The research was ethnographic, drawing upon socio-cultural views of learning, with novice/more-expert interactions crucial, and local knowledges and cultural practices being resourced. The analysis surfaced the ideas that: (1) families can be expansive sites for science learning; (2) parental voice and concerns about science learning come into tension with alternatives and school-based paradigms; (3) there is promise in designed resources for encouraging epistemic agency; (4) family dynamics around epistemic practices are present and need airing and addressing. We discuss how opportunities and tensions that co-arise need to inform further research and the design of family science experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-641
Number of pages21
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Opportunities and tensions in family science: challenging dominant paradigms of science education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this