Kitchen science investigators: promoting identity development as scientific reasoners and thinkers
Clegg, Tamara Lynnette
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My research centers upon designing transformative learning environments and supporting technologies. Kitchen Science Investigators (KSI) is an out-of-school transformative learning environment we designed to help young people learn science through cooking. My dissertation considers the question, 'How can we design a learning environment in which children discover the utility of science in their lives and their own scientific capabilities?' I have explored this question in the context of designing and enacting KSI. We designed the environment (i.e., activities, facilitation, and technology support) so that in the midst of cooking, participants generate personal goals that they need science to achieve. Our design integrates software to promote scientific practices in a real world context. In my thesis research I analyze how learners are developing identity as scientific reasoners in this environment. I also make recommendations about the design of learning environments and technologies to help with scientific development. My dissertation study is a longitudinal study of individuals in our most recent implementation of KSI. My current analysis of KSI shows significant development of disposition and identity development among focal learners, as well as a set of causal factors. I found that as learners connected cooking and science, and as they participated in science socially with their friends, they began to increase their scientific participation in and outside of KSI. My findings suggest guidelines for software support, facilitation, and activities for getting learners engaged in scientific inquiry in ways that promote the development of scientific identities.