Targeting science: Successfully integrating mathematics into science teaching

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Teaching Science: Knowledge, Language, Pedagogy


Mathematics is a key aspect of science but how mathematics can be successfully integrated in science teaching remains a vexing issue. That students often struggle with mathematics in science lessons, even when they have little problem with those ideas in mathematics lessons, has been a long-running concern for educators. One reason this issue remains unsolved is that existing approaches cannot systematically distinguish ‘mathematics’ knowledge from ‘science’ knowledge. This chapter introduces cutting-edge tools from the Legitimation Code Theory dimension of Autonomy that enable knowledge practices to be distinguished without lapsing into either essentialist definitions that neglect how these bodies of knowledge differ between contexts or relativist claims that they are nothing but endless flux. The concepts are illustrated through detailed analyses of real-world classroom practices that show a key attribute of successful integration of mathematics in science teaching to be autonomy tours that shift between different contents and purposes in particular ways. The ideas outlined here are poised to have a major impact on both research and practice in education, far beyond science teaching.

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