Objects as stimuli for exploring young people's views about cultural and scientific knowledge

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Date: Sept. 2015
From: Science, Technology, & Human Values(Vol. 40, Issue 5)
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.
Document Type: Author abstract
Length: 365 words

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Abstract :

An object-based activityuscience and culture story boxuwas designed, developed, and used to explore young peopleEs views about cultural knowledge and scientific knowledge. In informal education spaces (e.g., museums and science centers), culture is often presented via representations of easily observable features of ethnicity such as music or dress. The development and application of knowledge in culturally diverse communities can be difficult to visualize and is rarely presented. Instead, Western science often dominates as the authoritative, valid, systematic, and useful way of thinking. Conversations about science and culture can create a platform for meaningful dialogue and valuing of a variety of cultures and different funds of knowledge. Using an informal science education lens, we interrogated young peopleEs views about different knowledge systems. Six cohorts of Western Australian young people (twelve to sixteen years old; N = 171) participated in the study. The activity involved groups of three to four young people assigning seventeen photographs of objects and or processes (e.g., medicine, lightning, etc.) onto a Venn diagram of scientific knowledge, cultural knowledge, or both. Photographs were taken of the forty-four resulting Venn diagrams showing association of items with knowledge domain. This was quantified to show the number of times an item was associated with scientific knowledge, cultural knowledge, or both. Group discussions were audio recorded and transcribed. Thematic analysis of discussions and associations of items to knowledge domain revealed intriguing themes and perspectives. Young people in this study associated technology with electronic devices and scientific knowledge but not with cultural knowledge. Young people expressed views that culture was old and basic and science was new and progressive. Other impressions expressed were that cultures do not odoo science and that skin color determines culture. No clear or consistent conception emerged of Australian culture. These young peopleEs perspectives are discussed within the context of meaningful intercultural understanding in multicultural societies. This activity was developed as a research tool for use with young people in a multicultural society to examine views of different funds of knowledge. We propose further development and directed use of the story box in informal education spaces as a process to stimulate conversations that might enhance intercultural understanding and appreciation of multiple ways of knowing.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A434485250