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Honours chemistry: high-status knowledge or knowledge about high status?

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This study focuses on the relationship between meanings of honours chemistry constructed in classrooms and sociocultural precepts of the wider society. The research presented is part of a larger study of the negotiation of knowledge and roles in high school science classrooms. An ethnographic approach is used to describe and interpret what matters to teachers and students as they talk and do science in school. The data presented challenge traditional studies of tracking that posit a direct relationship between curriculum track and curriculum content. By questioning the quality of the high-status knowledge made available in honours chemistry at a comprehensive high school, this study adds to our understanding of how participants` meanings of school science shape and are shaped by the precept of class. Because school culture is considered as a context for what knowledge is negotiated in science classrooms, this study also reveals the importance of looking at school science from a reference point larger than the classroom.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 1997

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