Distributed Expertise in a Science Center

May 1st, 2008 | RESEARCH

This research project examines the way that children and parents talk about science outside of school and, specifically, how they show distributed expertise about biological topics during visits to a science center. We adopt a theoretical framework that looks at learning on three interweaving planes: individual, social, and cultural (tools, language, worldviews, and artifacts). We analyze conversations to study how these three planes show learning processes as families work together to create explanations of biological phenomena. Findings include: (a) children and parents made epistemic moves that led to different social and intellectual roles in the conversations (skeptic, expert, memory-prompter), sometimes based on prior involvement in science activities; and (b) during extended scientific explanations about life science content, expertise in science was distributed across the family members and the museum environment so that the parents and children were both contributing to the conversation.


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Team Members

Heather Toomey Zimmerman, Author, Pennsylvania State University
Suzanne Reeve, Author
Philip Bell, Author


Publication: Journal of Museum Education
Volume: 33
Number: 2
Page(s): 143

Related URLs



Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | Families | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers | Pre-K Children (0-5)
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM | Life science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs