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03.12.2014 | Ausgabe 2/2016

Cultural Studies of Science Education 2/2016

The role of cultural identity as a learning factor in physics: a discussion through the role of science in Brazil

Zeitschrift:
Cultural Studies of Science Education > Ausgabe 2/2016
Autoren:
Ivã Gurgel, Mauricio Pietrocola, Graciella Watanabe
Wichtige Hinweise
Lead Editor: K. Tobin

Abstract

In recent decades, changes in society have deeply affected the internal organization and the main goals of schools. These changes are particularly important in science education because science is one of the major sources of change in peoples’ lives. This research provided the opportunity to investigate how these changes affect the way teachers develop their classroom activities. In this work, we focus on science as part of the cultural identity of a society and how this identity affects the process of teaching and learning inside the classroom. Other works have shown that certain social characteristics such as gender, race, religion, etc., can create a cultural barrier to learning science. This results in an obstacle between those particular students and the science that is taught, hindering their learning process. We first aim to present the notion of identity in education and in other related fields such as social psychology and sociology. Our main purpose is to focus on identity in a school setting and how that identity affects the relationship students have with the science content. Next, we present and analyze an intervention in the subject of Modern and Contemporary Physics composed by a sequence of activities in a private school in the region of Sao Paulo State, Brazil. This intervention serves to illustrate how scientific topics may be explored while considering aspects of cultural differences as an obstacle. The intervention was completed in two steps: first, in the classroom with a discussion concerning scientific works and nationality of scientists, with one being a Brazilian physicist; second, taking students to visit a particle collider at the University of São Paulo. One of the results of our research was realizing that students do not perceive science as something representative of the Brazilian cultural identity. At the same time, the activity gave the students the opportunity to make the connection between doing physical sciences at an international level and the national level in Brazil. The findings of this study suggest that it is possible to reshape the cultural identity of Brazilian students.

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