Place-based learning processes in a family science workshop: Discussion prompts supporting families sensemaking and rural science connections using a community water model

Lucy R. McClain, Yu Chen Chiu, Heather Toomey Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study addresses intergenerational learning processes in informal settings by investigating families engaging in science talk and practices during a water quality science workshop led by local science experts. As part of a larger design-based research study, this analysis examines how modified Think–Pair–Share discussion prompts within the water quality workshop curriculum supported the families' (a) sensemaking strategies and (b) place-based scientific reasoning about local water sources as they interacted with a community water model. Using sociocultural theories of learning as our foundational basis, we analyzed parent–child interactions and family sensemaking processes that took place in four workshops with 44 h of video data (12 families). Through our analysis, we identified six distinct types of sensemaking conversations that arose during the workshops: (1) family experience connection, (2) rural connection, (3) model contextualizing, (4) parent revoicing, (5) parent questioning, and (6) prediction. We also found that families spatially distributed physical gestures over three media (air, table, community water model) to support different types of sensemaking conversations. Our findings point towards the importance of family discussion prompts in informal programs as a mediational means that connects abstract science topics to local, rural experiences to support family sensemaking practices. Implications for designing family-focused science workshops in informal settings include designing discussion prompts to spark families' personally relevant connections with science and providing ample physical space for families to gesture during sensemaking conversations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-673
Number of pages29
JournalScience Education
Volume106
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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