New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Teaching about Medicines under an Historic-Intercultural Approach: Lessons from the Classroom

Haira Emanuela Gandolfi, University College London (United Kingdom)




The inclusion of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) in school science has been advocated by several science educators, historians and curricular reforms around the world in recent decades. The ways in which HPS can be introduced into this setting are varied, and they are traditionally connected with a view of modern science as solely a Western product of the 17th century Enlightenment period. Nevertheless, recent debates in the field of Post/Decolonial Science are challenging this historical view of science by advocating, for instance, an intercultural/cosmopolitan model for the analysis of scientific development throughout our history. This model involves the understanding of science (its techniques, methods, instruments, knowledge, concepts) as the product of exchanges and collaborations between different people and cultural traditions, transforming a local historical narrative into a global historical narrative. The impacts of this specific approach towards HPS on school science, specifically on students’ views about Nature of Science (NOS) and on the question of minority groups’ participation in science, have recently started to be explored by science educators around the world. In this scenario, this work presents the initial results from an empirical classroom-based experience that employed this historic-intercultural model to teach regular topics from the English National Curriculum. This intervention was carried out in collaboration with a secondary school science teacher in London, UK, and involved the development and teaching of different teaching-learning sequences (TLS) (4-5 hours/topic) that incorporated historical cases and discussions about NOS under this historic-intercultural model. Participant students (n=27) were aged 12-13, and the topics explored were “Medicines”, “Magnetism” and “Environmental Chemistry”. Data was collated during this investigation through fieldnotes and audio-recordings of my collaborative meetings with the participant teacher during the preparation of the TLS, classroom observation during the teaching of the TLS, students’ diaries written at the end of each lesson, and interviews with participant teacher at the end of each lesson. Using the “Medicines” TLS as a case study, the potentialities and hindrances of this historic-intercultural model will be qualitatively analysed regarding curricular and the participant teacher’s perspectives, and its impacts on students’ view about NOS and diversity in science.

KeywordsHistory of Science, Intercultural Science, Teaching-learning sequence, Classroom-based research, Secondary school Science;


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