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    Ramey, Kay E. and Uttal, David H. 2017. Making Sense of Space: Distributed Spatial Sensemaking in a Middle School Summer Engineering Camp. Journal of the Learning Sciences, Vol. 26, Issue. 2, p. 277.

    Cooper, Melanie M. 2015. Why Ask Why?. Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 92, Issue. 8, p. 1273.

  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: June 2012

15 - The Knowledge Integration Perspective on Learning and Instruction


The knowledge integration perspective emerged from studies of the conceptions of scientific phenomena that students bring to science class, from design studies refining science instruction, and from longitudinal studies of students' learning over weeks, months, and years. These studies stress that learners grapple with multiple, conflicting, and often confusing, ideas about scientific phenomena. They characterize learners as developing a repertoire of ideas, adding new ideas from instruction, experience, or social interactions, sorting out these ideas in varied contexts, making connections among ideas at multiple levels of analysis, developing more and more nuanced criteria for evaluating ideas, and formulating an increasingly linked set of views about any phenomenon.

The knowledge integration perspective capitalizes on the varied ideas held by students both individually and collectively to stimulate science learning. The knowledge integration perspective synthesizes recent investigations of science learning and instruction, culminating in a set of design patterns that promote coherent and cohesive understanding, and design principles that guide customization of patterns. This chapter describes the process of knowledge integration and how knowledge integration resonates with current research programs. It offers guidance to researchers and curriculum designers wishing to promote lifelong science learning.

Learning and Knowledge Integration

My colleagues and I conducted over forty case studies of middle school students who were studying thermodynamics (Clark & Linn, 2003; Linn & Hsi, 2000). These studies illustrate the typical process of knowledge integration. We found that students generate a repertoire of ideas about each concept they are learning and about the links between concepts.

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