The pursuit of a “better” explanation as an organizing framework for science teaching and learning
Constantinou, Constantinos P.
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This article seeks to make the case for the pursuit of a “better” explanation being a productive organizing framework for science teaching and learning. Underlying this position is the idea that this framework allows promoting, in a unified manner, facility with the scientific practice of constructing explanations, appreciation of its epistemic underpinnings and understanding of its outcome (i.e., conceptual understanding). The effective enactment of this framework in the classroom needs to be guided by a theoretically sound perspective into what counts as a “good” explanation. This is currently an underdeveloped area within science education, toward which we seek to contribute by elaborating a theoretical account. This account capitalizes on three key epistemological features of explanation for the purposes of science teaching and learning, namely empirical validity, interpretive power, and generalizability. Drawing on these features, we then set out to identify certain epistemological orientations, which could be usefully promoted among the students to support productive engagement with the pursuit of a “better” explanation. The ideas addressed in this article could serve to inform attempts to develop teaching innovations centered on the notion of explanation but also educational materials for teacher professional education and development.