WWW Site for John Lawrence Bencze, Associate Professor (Emeritus), Science Education, OISE/University of Toronto


Developing Expertise for
'Judging Ideas'
(Skills Education)
Welcome! This page provides perspectives, general practices and links to resources for helping students to develop expertise for judging ideas (e.g., conducting empirical inquiries) regarding knowledge building in science & technology. As with everything on my site, if you have comments, questions, suggestions, resource ideas, etc. about anything here, please write to me about them. Thanks.

Rationale for Developing
Expertise for 'Judging Ideas'

Professional science & technology (S&T) have, clearly, generated many and diverse products including, much knowledge in such categories as cell & molecular biology, particle physics and inorganic chemistry. Using such knowledge and contributing to it are seemingly endless technological innovations including, for example, many electronic devices, household chemicals, and recreational equipment that are part of the daily lives of many people. A question that needs to be asked about all of these products is, however, 'To what extent and in what ways are such products "good"?' This is a highly subjective question. Much of the knowledge that has been generated has been judged to be extremely 'good' by many people. Few would argue, for example, with the 'goodness' of science knowledge that has contributed to many of the technological innovations (not to say that technology design is always or wholly dependent on science knowledge building) that most people believe have been beneficial, such as technologies for purifying water, various surgical techniques and organic crop fertilization techniques, structures for sheltering people, etc., etc.
However, there are at least two general reasons to place some doubt in all such products: i) for various reasons, they have changed over time and ii) evidence and opinion have suggested that many S&T products have considerable harm to individuals, societies & environments. A significant factor related to both of these issues is that knowledge building in science & technology is not neutral. It is not purely 'logical' or even always logically efficient. Humans make errors and, while many scientists and technologists attempt to eliminate error, there always seems to be room for more human error. More importantly, perhaps, it is clear that power to control knowledge building in science & technology is not equally distributed amongst members of societies. Indeed, it is apparent that much science and technology knowledge building is controlled by and mainly beneficial to small fractions of societies mainly, although not exclusively, based on their socio-economic wealth. For such reasons, all students need to develop a 'questioning' attitude and, more importantly, expertise for judging processes and products of science & technology.
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Based on the pedagogy outlined at Skills Pedagogy, specific suggestions for helping students to develop skills they could use for expressing ideas are provided through the links at right (which lead to separate pages). Note that no resources are provided for the 'Students Apply Skills' phase, since they would do that in the 'Judging Ideas' phase of my constructivism-informed pedagogical framework.
Science Inquiry.
Technology Design.
Data Processing (TBA).
Communication (TBA).
All rights reserved, J. L. Bencze, 2008.