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.
- Computer-based learning environments
- Socio-cultural environment
- Software design