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Tan, A. L., & Tang, K. S. (2019). The role of dialogue in science epistemic practices. In N. Mercer, R. Wegerif, & L. Major (Eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education (pp. 547-558). Routledge.
Science as a field of study is defined by epistemic practices of questioning, inquiry, argumentation and legitimising scientific knowledge. These epistemic practices shape the kinds of talk in the classroom as scientific knowledge is “talked into being”. The question that we aim to answer with this chapter is “What is the unique function and role of dialogue in learning science epistemic practices?” Discourse analysis is a means to analyse scientific talk to review the mechanisms and patterns through which scientific knowledge is learnt. As such, to develop our argument, we first delve into the theoretical underpinnings based on a sociocultural perspective of dialogue in science education. This is followed by a review of empirical studies in science education that focusses on talk in four key science epistemic practices of questioning, science inquiry, argumentation and legitimising conceptual knowledge. The review provides evidence of dialogue as fundamental to both the enactment and learning of science epistemic practices by scientists and science students. We included a discussion about the way forward for dialogue in science and STEM education research.
This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in The Routledge International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education. The published version is available online at
9781138338517 (print)
9780429441677 (online)
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