The logic of consensus on the foundations of science education in Canada: a Delphi study

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Murray, John James
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Despite certain episodes of Canadian influences on science education, the last six decades of science education in Canada has been a decidedly American experience – particularly from the standpoints of: 1) the foundational policy documents that have provided explicit impetus to periodic science curriculum reform in Canada; 2) the principal theoretical foundations, guiding assumptions, and goals of science education, and; 3) the development of curricular frameworks in Canadian provincial jurisdictions. Though contested, it will be argued here and supported by the research that the Canadian systems of science education operating in the provinces and territories have not had opportunity, historically, to engage in the architecture of curriculum uniquely from Canada that supplies broad and respected appeal to the context of Canadian society, its demographics, its geographic diversity, and its geo-political position internationally. The objective of this dissertation was to empirically determine the principal theoretical foundations and system conditions for a Canadian approach to science education. The research was conducted and documented through an online, anonymous, and asynchronous modified Delphi methodology. Over a five-month period, the assembled expert panel of 54 peer-acknowledged and representative science and education specialists from Canada - comprising fourteen identifiable professional affiliations in two cohorts - participated in a Delphi having three rounds. This first-of-kind Delphi has identified a number of consensus positions in accordance with standard statistical criteria developed in the research design. These consensus positions occur across four principal areas of impact on Canadian science education: (1) significant national and international globalization trends; (2) the foundations and goals of science education; (3) roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in curriculum, and; (4) a context for the future of science education in Canada. The findings of the study provide a new basis for, and constitute potential new challenges to, science education in Canada and argue persuasively for new terminology. Sustainability Science, Technology, Economy and Environment (SSTEE) is presented as a new, original guiding foundation for science education in Canada. This terminology constitutes a new tension for science curriculum and directly challenges the emergent trend of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as a basis for science curriculum reform.
Canadian science education, curriculum, modified Delphi study, policy Delphi