Software-realized inquiry support for cultivating a disciplinary stance

Iris Tabak, Brian J. Reiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


What role can technology play in cultivating a disciplinary stance - raising questions, planning investigations, interpreting data and constructing explanations in a way that reflects disciplinary values and principles? How can overt and tacit expert scientific knowledge be captured, represented and used to design software that enables novices to assume a disciplinary stance in their investigations? We present The Galapagos Finches software designed to foster a biological and evolutionary stance. Our approach, Discipline-Specific Strategic Support (DSSS), translates the main variable types, comparison types and relationships in a discipline into manipulable objects in the interface. Pre/post-tests show how DSSS helps achieve a balance between content and process goals. A contrastive-case microanalysis of high, medium and low-achieving students' inquiry shows progress toward a disciplinary stance. Our study shows how software representations carry multiple levels of meaning, and that the efficacy of learning technologies hinges on reflection at both the navigation and disciplinary-signification levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-355
Number of pages49
JournalPragmatics and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Computer-based learning environments
  • Content
  • Discipline-specific
  • Evolution
  • Inquiry
  • Representation
  • Science
  • Socio-cultural environment
  • Software design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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