Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Complementary epistemologies of science teaching: Towards an integral perspective

Willison, J.W. and Taylor, P.C. (2002) Complementary epistemologies of science teaching: Towards an integral perspective. In: 33rd annual conference of the Australasian Science Education Association (ASERA) 2002, July - August 2002, Townsville, QLD



For over two decades, science education has been a site of struggle between adherents of the apparently antithetical epistemologies of objectivism and constructivism; recently, proponents of personal and social constructivism have locked horns. However, at the beginning of the 21st Century, we feel that it is timely for science education to enter an age of pluralism, of tolerance for multiple and competing ways of knowing, in which no one way is ultimately privileged; to exercise humility about the authority of our cherished ways of knowing the world around us. In the interest of creating greater equity of access amongst students to a much richer encounter with science, a new mode of pedagogical reasoning is needed. From the perspective of constructive postmodernism, we propose dialectical thinking as a way of generating unity-in- diversity, and metaphor as a key referent for overcoming the obstacle of literalism which tends to reinforce fundamentalist notions of difference. We illustrate the viability of an integral perspective on science teaching with a brief account of an inquiry into the scientific literacy of a class of junior high school students, from which emerged a 3-metaphor framework. Mindful of the limitations of this framework, we argue for science education researchers to join us in conceptualizing more powerful and compelling integral metaphors for promoting worldwide epistemological pluralism and cultural diversity.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Conference Website:
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year