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Exploring Living Nature: Modes of observation in history, teaching and learning. A phenomenological approach

The image is showing Anne Lien.

The question is not just what kind of knowledge the students gain when they practice different modes of observation, but how both the phenomena in living nature and the students come into being through these practices.

Anne Lien

PhD Candidate

Anne Lien will defend her PhD thesis Exploring Living Nature: Modes of observation in history, teaching and learning. A phenomenological approach 18 January 2024.

Summary of the thesis:

How to teach and learn about the biological diversity in nature? 

Imagine that you are a teacher and want to take the students into the forest or to the flower meadow. You want to teach them something about the diversity of species found there. What are effective ways to proceed? How can students learn to become aware of the phenomena in living nature? How can students explore ways that are meaningful to them? 

In this research project, I have investigated four different modes of observing living nature which are based on four selected historical cases. The cases formed the basis of a continuing education course for a team of five teachers. The teachers then used the cases in their own teaching to try out the different modes of observation with their students in the fifth grade. The overarching research question is: What is the nature and meaning of observing living nature in science education in primary school?   

With a phenomenological approach, I have examined and analyzed the teachers' and students' experiences with the various observation practices. I discuss, among other things, how different forms of observation cause the phenomena in nature to emerge in diverse ways, the interaction between learning observation skills and other skills, how the role of the teacher change when students observe in diverse ways, and the complexity of describing and understanding scientific observation for both teachers and students. The question is not just what kind of knowledge the students gain when they practice different modes of observation, but how both the phenomena in living nature and the students come into being through these practices. Among other things, the findings point to the importance of embodied experiences for the students to develop both an ethical and a more fine-tuned attention to the diversity in nature. 

More information about the time and place for the doctoral defense.