WWW Site for John Lawrence Bencze, Associate Professor, Science Education, OISE/University of Toronto
Action research to learn more about students' civic actions to overcome harms linked to fields of science & technology.

Working with a team of graduate students, teachers, school district consultants and others, the STEPWISE project mainly uses action research to learn about eductors' efforts to encourage and enable learners to self-direct research-informed and negotiated action (RiNA) projects to overcome harms linked to fields of science and technology (and many other entities). Action (vs. passive) research seems necessary to study STEPWISE, since many of its basic principles and practices tend not to be used in schools - despite much scholarly support for them. In this work, we often develop teaching  & learning resources that educators then adapt/use for promoting self-direced RiNA projects. We researchers then collect and evaluate 'data' (e.g., interviews & student work samples) to help us explain RiNA project outcomes.

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Ways to be Involved with STEPWISE

The STEPWISE project appears to have developed many positive results, several of which are summarized here. If such results interest you, there are several ways you can get involved in this movement - such as those summarized below;

Seminars and Workshops

We are mainly interested in conducting research as we work - usually over several months - with teachers and others involved in science and technology education to implement teaching/learning approaches that promote principles of STEPWISE. Sometimes, however, I (and/or graduate students with whom I work) offer shorter (e.g., 1-2 hours) seminars and/or workshops - as suggested here.

Facilitated Action Research

As described above, we would most like to work with teachers and/or others involved in science and technology education to co-develop educational approaches that may enable students to eventually self-direct RiNA projects to address harms they perceive in STSE relationships. Briefly, in doing so, while we may suggest some particular perspectives and approaches, we will encourage those with whom we work (e.g., teachers, consultants, government officials, etc.) to independently make decisions about their goals and practices. During such activities, though, we will want to collect (mostly qualitative) 'data' (e.g., interviews & student assignment samples) and - often working with the teacher, etc. - analyze data and develop reports that may be published in different forms (e.g., blogs, magazines, journals, conference or workshop presentations, books).

Research and publication activities like these are not overly-planned by us, however. Instead, we typically negotiate topics with people and groups with whom we work. Nevertheless, we often are interested in factors (e.g., here) that may influence the nature and extent of student-led RiNA projects.

Most often, we have worked to facilitate action research with science teachers in elementary and secondary schools to encourage and learn about students' RiNA projects like those above. However, other research contexts have included:
  • uses of the STEPWISE framework in science teacher education, as here;
  • promotion of RiNA projects in after-school student action clubs, as here;
  • uses of the STEPWISE framework in community college technicians' education, as here;
  • studies of community action groups (CAGs) as models for educating school students, as here and here.

With new funding from SSHRC for action research over the next 3-4 years, we are interested in working with academics in fields of science and technology studies (STS) to develop more realistic educational materials regarding harms in STSE relationships that may be effectively used in school science and technology contexts to encourage and enable students to develop and implement socio-political actions to address such harms..

Publication Opportunities

In working with teachers, student-teachers, community youth educators and others, we usually try to involve them in publications relating to their work with us. Typically, these start with conference presentations before moving to publishing in journals and books. Some possibilities include:

  • My Online CV: You can get a sense of kinds of publications that have emerged from the STEPWISE project through my online curriculum vitae, here.
  • Education Conferences: Many educational associations provide annual or semi-annual conferences to encourage educators, researchers and others to share and learn from their work - some of which are given here.
  • Journal for Activist Science & Technology Education: A major outlet for our work has been our non-refereed, open-source, journal promoting activism in and through science and technology education, at JASTE;
  • Professional Publications: Although not always the case, teachers, student-teachers and others may first choose to publish in professional outlets, like magazines and blogs. The Science Teachers' Association of Ontario (STAO), for instance, maintains an excellent Blog, here. There are many such magazines, at various levels of education, a prominent set available through the NSTA Journals site.
  • Refereed Publications: Given our context at OISE, we often emphasize publication in refereed (peer-reviewed) journals and books. Some relevant journals are listed here. After a decade of work with STEPWISE, we have produced an edited book ('STEPWISE') that provides documentaries of uses of the framework in science classes, in science teacher education and in after-school contexts. The book also features several chapters written by scholars, in which they provide theoretical analyses of STEPWISE frameworks.

Invitation to Join STEPWISE
To broaden the scope of STEPWISE implementation and research, we feel we must work with a great variety of people and groups, at least including
(in no particular order): teachers, students, consultants, principals, government officials, school district officials, community activists, etc. Broadly, our goals include learning about education from participants, but also helping them to learn and to publish their work - which we have done in numerous ways, as indicated on my online CV.
If you are interested in working with us (usually graduate students and me) in various ways, please write to me at: larry.bencze@utoronto.ca. To help decide about joining us, you might read the   flyer linked at left and/or the project summary and/or foldable brochure.
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