WWW Site for John Lawrence Bencze, Associate Professor, Science Education, OISE/University of Toronto
Some STEPWISE Research Results


Welcome!

STEPWISE project teams seem to have generated, largely through action research, many positive results - which may be evident from our publication record, highlighted here. In this ongoing project, however, we continue to work to encourage and enable more educators to help many more students to develop and implement personal and social actions to address harms they perceive in STSE relationships, hopefully leading to increases in wellbeing for individuals, societies and environments. In the sections below, brief outlines of some major benefits generated through this project are provided. For more information and/or to get involved in the project, contact me at: larry.bencze@utoronto.ca.

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Some Action Research Results
Our action research since 2006 has helped us to learn a great deal about the nature and extent of students' self-direced RiNA projects and conditions that seem to influence them. Some general findings are provided in sub-sections below:

Many students have developed and implemented relatively successful RiNA projects.
  • Special Issues of JASTE. The 5.1 and 9.1 special issues of JASTE, edited by science teachers, feature students' reports of their RiNA projects;
  • Multimedia RiNA Project Summaries. Here, you can review our multimedia summaries of students' RiNA projects;
  • STEPWISE Scholarly Book. Available here, and summarized here, this book contains several chapters written by teachers and graduate students about promotion of self-directed RiNA projects in different educational contexts; and,
  • Articles & Book Chapters. Listed in my online CV are several articles and book chapters (in others' books) written by graduate students and teachers regarding promotion of self-directed RiNA projects.

Over the years, graduate students and I have had the pleasure of working with several wonderful teachers using the STEPWISE framework. For example, a teacher in the Peel District School Board (PDSB), Mr. Mirjan Krstovic, worked with me for at least three successive years and experienced many successes promoting RiNA projects among students in his classes. In his online blog, he describes some of this learning. Many teachers appear to have developed professionally through implementation of STEPWISE.

Many teaching & learning resources have been developed for uses with the STEPWISE framework.
Many of the teaching/learning resources we have developed for action research involving educators are described and/or freely-available in publications or at different locations on the STEPWISE website. Many of these are noted above. Among our online, open-source, resources, a major one is our set of 'Multi-Actant Documentaries' (MADs) that, based on actor-network theory, provide some information about several living, nonliving and symbolic actants relating to common for-profit products/services; but, crucially, do not directly indicate relationships among actants - leaving such decisions for students to determine through further research and discussion. Recently, we developing a free, downloadable, teaching/learning resource book - Science Education for Civic Action - for teachers.

Based on my educational experiences, reading and Ontario curriculum for science (and technology), I developed (in 2006) the tetrahedral theoretical STEPWISE framework for encouraging RiNA projects. But, through our action research, we soon developed more sequential pedagogical schema that appeared more practical for uses in educational contexts. Overviews of both schema are provided here. Research-informed schema for preparing students to self-direct RiNA projects have been developed.

Many factors/conditions have contributed to STEPWISE successes.

  • Inclusion of STSE Education in Official Curricula. Because Ontario's curricula for science (and technology) have, since 1998, included STSE Education among its three major curricular goals teachers have had 'permission' to educate students about possibly-problematic influences of powerful stakeholders  (e.g., corporations) on science and technology and to develop (and implement) plans of action to address them;
  • STEPWISE Pedagogy. Perhaps largely because of its basis in constructivist learning theory, many teachers have credited the STEPWISE pedagogy with helping them develop and revise teaching/learning resources for uses with students in their classes in promoting self-directed RiNA projects;
  • Availability of Sample Curriculum Resources. Perhaps explained by hegemonic influences of powerful pro-capitalist people (e.g., financiers) and groups (e.g., corportions) on myriad entities in societies and across environments, school science systems have tended to prioritize education about widely-accepted 'products' (e.g., laws, theories & innovations) and techniques (e.g., experimentation) of science and technology, there has been a dearth of teaching/learning resources for critical and activist STSE education;
  • Teachers' Views About the Nature of Science & Technology. The more teachers support whose Naturalist-Antirealist (N-A) positions on Loving's (1991) Scientific Theory Profile, the more likely they seem to promote basic principles and practices of STEPWISE. Teachers adhering to N-A views, for instance, seem more likely to teach students about influences of powerful people and groups on myriad entities, including fields of science & technology, in ways that prioritize profit over common societal outcomes (see Corrupted Science). They also appear more likely to allow more student-directed & open-ended activities that may challenge mainstream science and technology; and,
  • Collegial and Administrative Supports. The more teachers' colleagues (e.g., teachers in their department) and school leaders (e.g., principals, superintendents, etc.) support, at the very least, innovation in curriculum and instruction, the more likely teachers are to implement aspects of STEPWISE. This effect can, of course, greatly increase if colleagues and administrators support core perspectives and practices of STEPWISE.
A relatively short summary of such findings is linked here. Also, with reference to the World <--> Sign schema here, the summary of research findings about promoting RiNA projects here may be helpful. Readers also might find the attached unpublished article about STEPWISE helpful.
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