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In the last few years many science education policy documents, including those from Project 2000+, have noted the need for further knowledge and understanding of how people individually and as members of social and cultural groups learn and teach science. To this end science educators have studied cognitive development and mental capacity. They have explored the effectiveness of various instructional strategies. Among other things they have investigated the errors students make. However, what students believe about the physical world, belief rooted and nurtured in students' socio-cultural environments, has received far less attention. In a non-Western economically developing nation one speaks of traditional culture in contrast to the culture of science where educators understand that science is a second culture for students. In Western nations such as the USA science educators have long assumed that scientific explanation is a natural part of student culture. But this is not necessarily a wise assumption. Many Western societies are increasingly pluralistic. Moreover, not only is there widespread disinterest in science among Western students, there are several cultural subgroups traditionally under-represented in science. In the USA these include, for example, women, African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and those who are religious conservatives.


SLCSP Paper # 120

Published Citation

Cobern, W. W. "World view, culture, and science education." Science Education International 5.4 (1994): 5-8. Electronic.