WWW Site for John Lawrence Bencze, Associate Professor, Science Education, OISE/University of Toronto
Teaching and learning resources

To encourage and enable students to eventually self-direct (SD/OE) research-informed and negotiated action (RiNA) projects to address harms they perceive in STSE relationships, we suggest teachers first provide them with 'apprenticeship' lessons and activities (with examples from teacher practices here) to help them develop useful attitudes, skills and knowledge. Because such lessons and activities are relatively rare in schools (and in teacher education), our research and publication team has developed many of them for teacher use - also helping us engage in action research to learn more about such critical and action-oriented education. Because our institution (OISE-UT) is publicly-funded and because we believe in shared knowledge, etc., we make many of our resources freely-available to teachers and others via links at right.
STSE Actions Cards.
STSE Action-RiNA Comics.
  STSE Commodity Actant Arrays.
  Multi-Actant Documentaries.
STSE Issues-Actions Video.
Nature of Science Cards.
STSE Case Methods.
Skills Apprenticeship Handbook.
Québec City Dust Pollution Graphic Novel.
Science Education for Civic Action (book).
JASTE School-based Issues.
Students' RiNA Projects.

STSE Issues & Action Cards. Based on constructivist learning theory, teachers should encourage students to reflect on and express their attitudes, skills, and knowledge (ASK) regarding objects, ideas, etc. relating to science and technology. Asking students to reflect on and express ASK about for-profit commodities (e.g., via names &/or photos) are quite appropriate in this sense. Many of them are associated with numerous harms for wellbeing of individuals, societies and environments (WISE), about which students may have some ASK. To overcome such harms, of course, we recommend science teachers prepare students for civic actions. However, before teaching students about such actions, teachers may first choose to ask students to evaluate possible actions - such as those depicted and linked at left.

STSE Action-RiNA Comics. For reasons similar to those noted above, teachers can show students various comic strips or cartoon situations that have messages regarding possible controversies and/or problems and/or social actions in STSE relationships. Students can be asked to re-stage or evaluate messages in them and, perhaps, discuss solutions/actions people could take to address issues/problems. We have developed two such comics:

Apart from asking students to evaluate - and, possibly, revise - scenarios in such comics, activities associated with them should be SD/OE; i.e., allowing for multiple possible conclusions, not very influenced by the teacher's beliefs.

STSE Commodity Actant Arrays. For reasons similar to those noted above, teachers can encourage students to express their attitudes, skills and knowledge (ASK) regarding STSE relationships by showing them what we call 'Commodity Actant Arrays.' As shown at left, these provide very short notes about different actant types associated with certain commodities (which, generally, are products/services of science and technology - and, often, capitalists). These arrays are based on actor-network theory (ANT) but - as an intentional pedagogical choice - we have not indicated links among actant types. Used on their own, students could be asked to evaluate statements in these arrays. Through their reading of the arrays and research about them, students may self-determine such links - which we feel may be more meaningful to them. We have 3 arrays to share: Lumber; Drones; Batteries.

Multi-Actant Documentaries. For reasons similar to those noted above, teachers can show students what we call Multi-Actant Documentaries (MADs). These are similar to Commodity Actant Arrays (above), except that they provide considerably more information and media forms (e.g., video, text & graphics). Again, based on ANT, students can reflect on these MADs and, perhaps, later, conduct research to learn more about them - and, then, suggest reciprocal relationships between pairs of actants. We have developed thirteen such MADs for uses in schools (and, perhaps, in teacher education), here: MADs. After interacting with some or all such MADs, teachers may want to ask students to develop some about commodities that interest students.

STSE Issues-Actions Video. At different stages of the STEPWISE pedagogy, most likely somewhere near the beginning of the process (e.g., Students Reflect), students can be introduced to controveries - largely regarding differences in opinions about merits - surrounding commodities. In the video linked at left, students may be interested in possible problems linked to one of the most commonly-used commodities throughout the world; that is, cell phones. Awareness of possible harms can, then, motivate students to further investigate STSE relationships involving cell phones and, possibly, develop and carry out actions to address harms of interest/concern to them.

Nature-of-Science Cards. When getting students to reflect on and learn STSE relationships, this should also involve reflecting on and learning about the nature of science (NoS) (and about technology, societies & environments). Generally, NoS refers to abstract ideas about how science proceeds and characteristics of knowledge claims made in science fields. For example, a common belief is that scientists follow a linear 'scientific method.' On the contrary, many studies of scientists suggest that their methods are not so linear and, indeed, they can be quite unpredictable. One approach to helping students to reflect on their NoS views is to play a NoS card exchange game. Besides using cards here, you can use those gathered by me, here, which uses statements like those depicted at right.

STSE Case Methods. A very common method for teaching concepts, skills, etc. is the 'case method,' which is - broadly - a set of instructions and questions for student interactions with a documentary of some phenomenon (e.g., about cell phones). This method is elaborated and applied, here, to teaching of STSE relationships, issues and problems - and, often, actions people can take to address problems. A key point to be stressed in uses of case methods is that, if particular learning outcomes are intended by the teacher, then case methods should only be used after some other, more direct, instruction has been provided - after which students can use ideas, skills, etc. just taught to address problems, issues, etc. inherent to the case methods. Most importantly in such uses, teachers should not insist students arrive at particular conclusions.

Skills Apprenticeship Handbook. For students to be motivated to act and have strong ideas about where to aim actions, it can be helpful for them to self-direct (SD/OE) research to inform their actions. However, students often do not have sufficient attitudes, skills and knowledge enabling them to self-direct research. So, we suggest teachers engage students (as needed) in one or more skills 'apprenticeships' prior to urging them to self-direct research and related activities. To help with this, I have prepared several suggestions for apprenticeship lessons and activities - as linked at right and as provided in the document, Skills Apprenticeship Handbook. Note, however, this older document could/should be updated to use STSE issues/problems as contexts for teaching skills.

Dust Pollution Graphic Novel. As discussed above, an excellent approach for helping students to deepen their understanding of - and development of new - attitudes, skills and knowledge (ASK) is the case method. These can be provided in different forms. Excellent choices in this regard are graphic novels, which are, essentially, stories that - often using artistic forms - serve as cases ('documentaries') that can be made into case methods with addition of lesson and activity suggestions. Based on ongoing issues regarding dust accumulation in Québec City (see citizen action site, here), our research team has produced a graphic novel and set of teaching/learning suggestions that teachers may find useful as a case method. With appropriate teacher instruction and reading of the graphic novel, students can learn - for instance - about different characteristics of STSE relationships, possibly-problematic STSE relationships, research approaches and characteristics of personal and social actions that people can take to try to overcome harms for individuals, societies and environments. Fuller descriptions of these resources are provided through the link at left.

Science Education for Civic Action (book). The STEPWISE project uses action research to learn about educators' efforts to help students to develop expertise, confidence and motivation for developing and carrying out informed & negotiated civic actions. After about a decade of such action research, I edited a scholarly book that provides case studies of STEPWISE in use and articles by scholars about it. Over this time period, our AR team ALSO produced many teaching/learning resources that educators might use as they attempted to implement the STEPWISE pedagogy. Many of these resources are now freely-available through the link at right.

JASTE School-based Issues. Based on actor-network theory, our university-based action research team would not work well without associations among teachers, students and others in schools and related contexts. Excellent examples of this are apparent in special issues of JASTE - an open-access, community-reviewed, journal that were edited by teachers (including those at left) and featuring students' reports of their RiNA projects. To date, two such school-based issues (5.1 & 9.1) of JASTE have been published - with a third is due out in October 2019. These issues indicate great commitments by teachers & students, and are excellent educational resources.

Students' RiNA Projects. Several students in teachers' classes who have helped them to develop expertise, confidence and motivation for eventually developing and implementing RiNA projects have given us short descriptions of their projects that we have captured on video and described via the photo at right. We are extremely grateful to these students and teachers with whom they have worked. The projects demonstrate great creativity and commitments to causes. On this site, we hope to add more such videos as they are produced. So, please consider regularly returning to that page.
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