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Science Education and Student Autonomy

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CJSMTE Volume 18, Number 2, ISSN 1492-6156


In this article, we examine how the concept of autonomy may be construed as a foundational value which underpins students' coherent sensemaking of how the physical world operates. Autonomy and science both require students to comprehend and assess the quality of evidence, claims, and alternative outcomes. Further, participation in scientific sensemaking affords opportunities for dialogue, agency, and power, while autonomy stresses a concern for the "quality" of both the decisions that students arrive at regarding themselves, their participation in the scientific enterprise, and the reasoning behind their decisions. In particular, we focus on how autonomy provides a foundation for the education of students as "epistemic agents." Our work indicates that the development of students' autonomy is predicated on carefully examining and challenging traditional power relationships found within classrooms. By pursuing the goal of autonomy, and challenging the entrenched power relationships oft found in science education, we argue that science education can become more meaningful, and accessible, to more students.


Melville, W., Kerr, D., Verma, G. & Campbell, T. (2018). Science Education and Student Autonomy. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 18(2), 87-97. Retrieved September 27, 2022 from .

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