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Epistemological-Relational Entanglements: Toward an Ethic of Critical Caring for Science Teaching and Learning

Epistemological-Relational Entanglements: Toward an Ethic of Critical Caring for Science Teaching and Learning

Monday, December 11, 2023
12:00pm - 1:00pm
CERAS 204

GSE Colloquium Series in Science, Engineering, Technology Education

Christina Krist, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois

The “practice turn” in K-12 science education, codified in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), calls for increased student involvement in figuring out key science ideas through participation in science practices. Participating in these practices requires students’ intellectual involvement in developing explanatory science ideas, particularly through talk and interaction. However, while both science education research and professional learning efforts have emphasized the epistemic dimension of students’ participation, the relational nature of these knowledge-building interactions has been underexamined. At the same time, broader educational theories that emphasize the central role of relationality with and among students for learning remain largely absent from the science education literature.

In this talk, I describe a line of research that builds on Noddings’ ethic of caring, coupling it with contemporary scholarship on caring and justice in schooling, to construct and actualize a vision for humanistic science teaching and learning. I present a collection of paradigmatic case studies from video recordings of classroom interactions that, when taken together, make visible how doing and teaching science characterized by an ethic of caring (a) shows up in the moment-to-moment work of science teaching and learning, and (b) differs fundamentally from doing and teaching science guided by other (more dominant) ethics that commonly characterize “NGSS-aligned” instruction. From these case studies, I articulate a set of principles for striving for an ethic of critical caring in science education. I illustrate how I have embodied those principles in three early-stage design-based research studies focusing on different leverage points for improving science teaching and learning: pre-service science teacher education, in-service teacher professional learning, and parent participatory action research in schools. I discuss the implications and future directions of this line of research, as well as connections to my broader research agenda, for striving for a more humanistic science education scholarship and practice.

Dr. Krist is an Assistant Professor of science education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her work focuses on supporting meaningful student participation in science practices, teacher professional learning, and, recently, the use of AI in education research in ways that realize a humanistic vision for science teaching and learning. She received her PhD in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University in 2016 and was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Maryland from 2016-2017. Her early career work has been supported by an NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship as well as grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and was recently recognized with NARST’s Early Career Research Award.

Event Details


Event Admission 
Open to public
Event Audience 
Faculty/Staff
Admitted Students
PhD Students
MA/MS Students
Undergraduates

Contact Information


Contact Name 
Jesse Rivas
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