Network workshop: Using network science to study processes of learning

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This paper describes the background for, realisation of and author reflections on a
network workshop held at ESERA2013. As a new research area in science education,
networks offer a unique opportunity to visualise and find patterns and relationships in
complicated social or academic network data. These include student relations and interactions and epistemic and linguistic networks of words, concepts and actions. Network methodology has already found use in science education research. However, while networks hold the potential for new insights, they have not yet found wide use in the science education research community. With this workshop, participants were offered a way into network science based on authentic educational research data. The workshop was constructed as an inquiry lesson with emphasis on user autonomy. Learning activities had participants choose to work with one of two cases of networks. In the one case participants studied learning processes based on student interactions as represented by a social network. In the other they investigated how
text represented as networks could lead to different interpretations of the meanings embedded in the original text. In both cases they created and analysed networks using the commonly used and freely available software Gephi (gephi.org). Reflecting upon why science education researchers might be hesitant to adopt network methodology we identify a key problem for networks in science education research: The cost in resources of learning how to include network methodology in one’s research might supersede the perceived benefits of doing so. As a response to that problem, we argue that workshops can act as a road towards meaningful engagement with networks and highlight that network methodology promises new ways of interpreting data to answer questions about the processes of learning science.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScience Education Research For Evidence-based Teaching and Coherence in Learning (Proceedings of the ESERA 2013 Conference)
EditorsC. P. Constantinou, N. Papadouris, A. Hadjigeorgiou
Number of pages8
PublisherEuropean Science Education Research Association (ESERA)
Publication date2014
EditionE-book
Pages136-143
Article number18
Chapter18
ISBN (Electronic)978-9963-700-77-6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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