Collaborative Research: Cultural Epistemologies and Science-related Practices: Living and Learning in Relationships

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The purpose of our project is to examine the role of culture and epistemological practices in the development of and reasoning about the nature. We have evidence that cultural practices affect basic ways of learning about and understanding the biological world. We will use studies of out of school practices to inform community- and culturally-based design experiments.


Our studies primarily take place in and around the American Indian Center (AIC) of Chicago and on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin.

Research Design: 

The project uses a cross-sectional and comparative research design and will generate evidence that is descriptive [design research, ethnography, observational], associative/correlational [quasi-experimental], and causal [experimental, quasi-experimental, cultural comparisons]. Original data will be collected on children attending Headstart programs on the Menominee reservation and children attending a preschool playroom at the AIC for the purpose of comparing Native American children and adults to non-Native children and adults. Data collection methods include observation [videography] and survey research [self-completion questionnaire, structured interviewer-administered questionnaire], with coding of discourse, gesture and measures of attention using NVIVO, video in a constrained play context sorting tasks, picture description and recall, probes for ecological reasoning, perspective taking and hypothesis generation and other science-related practices.

We use mixed methods and the analyses will vary across studies. For some types of data we will use cultural consensus modeling, for other standard statistical analysis such as analysis of variance and regression. Coding and establishing inter-rater reliability are key aspects of our observational studies.


Findings will be posted as they become available.

Other Products: 

This project will generate curricula and ideas about classroom design.



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