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In this paper, I argue that science education research and curriculum development efforts in Nonwestern countries can benefit by adopting a constructivist view of science and science learning. The past efforts at transferring curricula from the West, and local development projects that result in curricula only marginally different from Western curricula, stem from an acultural view of science. These efforts also ground science learning in concepts of logical thinking rather than understanding. The resulting level of science learning, however, has not met expectations. Constructivism offers a very different view of science and science learning. It assumes that logical thinking is an inherently human quality regardless of culture, and instead focuses attention on the processes of interpretation that lead to understanding. Constructivism leads one to expect that students in different cultures will have somewhat different perspectives on science. Science education research should inform curriculum projects that incorporate this point, thus making science curricula authentically sensitive to culture and authentically scientific. Japanese elementary science education based on the Japanese traditional love of nature is a good example.


SLCSP Paper # 102

Published Citation

Cobern, William W. "Constructivism and Non-Western Science Education Research." International Journal of Science Education 40.3 (1996): 287-302. Electronic.