Science education and the learning sciences as coevolving species

Nancy Butler Songer, Yael Kali

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Science education has been a popular disciplinary context for research studies within the learning sciences, particularly in classroom-based research studies. In the 2006 handbook, chapters as diverse as conceptual change research (chapter 16), project-based research (chapter 19), authentic practices (chapter 20), design of inquiry-focused curricular units (chapter 21), and model-based reasoning (chapter 22) grounded their discussions in science-based contexts and examples. There are several explanations for this synergy between the learning sciences and science education - including a compelling international recognition of the importance of scientific thinking and problem solving across contexts with a reach far beyond the traditional scientific domains including economics, psychology, medicine, agriculture, and political science (e.g., NRC, 2007). In biology, scientists use the idea of coevolution to describe the process of synchronistic changes in two different species over time, resulting in a strong and often mutually beneficial relationship between the two species. Over historical time, many species of insects and flowering plants have coevolved relative to each other and supported the mutually beneficial existence of the two organisms over thousands of years. Species such as the acacia tree and acacia ants are a good example of coevolution. The acacia tree makes a substance on its leaves that is food for the ants; in return, when predators threaten the tree, the ants release a chemical (pheromone) and organize into a large group to overcome the predator and defend the tree from being eaten.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, Second Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781139519526
ISBN (Print)9781107033252
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2006, 2014.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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