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The role of negotiation in a constructivist-oriented Hands-On and Minds-On science laboratory classroom

Jegede, O.J. and Taylor, P.C. (1995) The role of negotiation in a constructivist-oriented Hands-On and Minds-On science laboratory classroom. In: Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) 1995, 18 - 22 April 1995, San Francisco, CA



Constructivist classroom environments are characterized by student engagement in science processes and manipulating experimental materials with experiential teaching of specific science concepts. Constructivist classrooms are where teachers build models of students' science knowledge, students participate actively in determining the viability of their own constructions, learning is interactive, cooperative and collaborative. The philosophical, psychological and pedagogical models for science teaching within the paradigm of constructivism are congruent with encouraging both "hands-on" and "minds-on" approaches in science laboratories with respect to a number of issues which include: preparation, pacing, need for attention, negotiation of social norms and negotiation of meanings. Arising out of the constructivist epistemology, therefore, is the need to use negotiated learning pedagogy in a constructivist-oriented science classroom. Given the socially active nature of science laboratory classes characterized by the need to exchange information, the use of negotiated learning pedagogy is even more compelling. If negotiation is to become an integral part of science teaching, teachers need to know what it means and how to identify and classify types of negotiation which go on in their classes. At the moment, the literature indicates a void in this area which needs to be filled as science educators aspire to appropriate use of constructivist pedagogy for meaningful teaching and learning of science. This study therefore investigated the sorts of teacher/student negotiation which can occur in a school science laboratory and attempted to find out if the types of negotiation identified could be grouped meaningfully. Using a case study approach which utilized a participant observation technique, seven groupings of negotiation were identified from several learning events within science practical classes of a selected teacher. The implications of the results together with the difficulties associated with structuring a constructivist science class to accommodate negotiation as a significant part of science teaching strategies are discussed.

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