Contemporary scientists and their interactions with non-scientists: alternative companion stories for school curricula

Dorothy V. Smith, Pamela J. Mulhall, Christina E. Hart, Richard F. Gunstone

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    Students learn more than science knowledge in a science classroom; they also acquire important messages about the purposes and contexts of science. Roberts (2011) calls these messages a companion story. In this article, we present a case study of high-profile Australian contemporary scientists to argue that there is a need to broaden the range of companion stories presented to students. A key companion story presently conveyed in schools is that the products of science are more important than the involvement of scientists in the construction of scientific knowledge. By contrast, the experiences and insights of the scientists in this case study shifts our understanding away from the idea that science is something that humans do—although that is true—to a deeper understanding that science is a discipline in which being human is important. We identify fresh companion stories that arise from these data and argue that the inclusion of such companion stories in the science curriculum is likely to better meet the needs of all citizens, scientists and non-scientists alike.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2111-2130
    Number of pages20
    JournalResearch in Science Education
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Companion meaning
    • Companion story
    • Contemporary science
    • Science curriculum
    • Science practices
    • Views of scientists

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