LEARNING SCIENCE THROUGH WORK EXPERIENCE
A PhD thesis
This phd research, carried out in Cambridge, is a case study of a national summer Science Internships Programme for secondary school students (K-10 to K-12) in Portugal. It addresses the case phenomena both in their naturally occurring setting (a research laboratory), and within the broader framework in which they unfold: the Portuguese Ciência Viva Summer Science Internships. This was carried out by linking a nationwide profiling of the programme – grounded both in demographic data and in the students’ subjective ratings and perceptions – with the participant observation of a group of students working as apprentices in the research laboratories of the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (Ipatimup).
Field work was carried out over a period of three consecutive years, combining case study and survey with a range of interconnected qualitative methods, such as observation, interviewing and document analysis. Within the framework of a mixed-methodology research design, coding procedures provided the analytical techniques with which to address the qualitative data, whereas statistical analysis was used to explore and eventually reinforce generalizability.
The implications of taking on board science and technology practitioners to improve science education are discussed. It was found that the input of the scientific community provides opportunities for youngsters, particularly the highly motivated ones, to have first hand contact with the processes of science, the social environment in which these unfold, and ultimately the social implications of their application to real-world problems. The characterization of scientists teaching and students learning in the science workplace will, it is hoped, lay the foundation for an interplay between science and school science.
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Learning science through work experience