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Title: Making scientists: developing a model of science identity
Authors: Salehjee, Saima Qasim
Advisors: Watts, M
Keywords: A fusion of identity theory and transformational learning theory;Synoptic analysis;Science education-based interventions;Agency and structure;stable and fluid people
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: This study is an analysis of a three-phase study with twelve professional scientists and non-scientists (Phase One), one-hundred and twenty-three science and non-science university students (Phase Two) and thirty secondary school girls (Phase Three), to illustrate their ‘science lives’. I have used identity theories and transformational learning theory (TLT) to illustrate transformation or movement of learners towards, or away from, science. The understanding of these models and theories have led me to design a theoretical model of science identity (Sci-ID) that represents the global forces (GF) experienced by learners, the social agencies and agents (SA) that embody those forces, the transformational learning (TL) experiences (events, triggers and interventions) that shape personal meaning, and the inclinations and individual internal agency (IIA) that impact upon individuals’ subject and career choices. I have adopted semi-structured ‘narrative’ styled interviews, a descriptive questionnaire and science ‘intervention evaluation’ approaches from the three cohorts. The data generated has been analysed in several ways, including the use of synoptic analysis to construct individual stories about the participants, in third-person voice, from their responses. These stories and the broader, aggregated, thematic, outcomes have been used to examine the Sci-ID model. These outcomes stress three main themes related to the study (or not) of science, that include (i) progressive transformational learning and smooth transformation, (ii) progressive transformational learning and wavering transformation and (iii) reconstructive transformational learning and wavering transformation. These themes indicates that people in life accept and reject certain TL experiences that either ‘go with their IIA’ or ‘go against it’. The majority find their way, choose and select TL experiences exhibiting small or medium movement towards or away from science. However, very few people exhibit large movement accompanied by regressive TL experiences. This study also reveals the existence of two very broad kinds of people (i) people who demonstrate stable pro-science or anti science and (ii) ‘fluid’ people who populate the centre-ground between pro-science and anti-science people. The fluid group caught my attention because their IIA shows greater ambivalence and the impact of GF, SA, incorporating events, triggers and interventions appear to have more impact than on those with a more stable science identity. Therefore, through six science education-based interventions I was able to work with – and influence - more ‘fluid’ kinds of secondary school girls. I used a number of mini-transformative experiences that led them to gain appreciation of science-based education and possible future science careers.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
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Dept of Education Theses

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