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Heidi Carlone

Associate Professor, Science Education

Heidi Carlone

Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation by Jean Lave & Etienne Wenger

This book transformed the ways that I conceptualize learning. Historically, science educators have viewed learning as a purely psychological process. Lave and Wenger's book is part of a watershed movement that challenged those purely psychological views of learning. Situated cognition implies that students' learning depends on how social practices allow students to participate in them-- in what times and spaces, with what tools or representations, with what goals or endpoints. What this means is that the focus of educational research becomes less about the individual and more about the social practices that allow the individual to become a member of the community. Though the book is not specifically about science education (my field), Lave and Wenger's concepts of "community of practice," "identity", and "legitimate peripheral participation" are central to re-thinking what science education is-- and what science education could be.