Personal Science and its Implications for Science Education: A combined project in science education and astronomy
A combined study in Astronomy and Science Education was undertaken to explore the personal dimension of science within research and science education. The term "personal science" has been introduced to embrace a host of personal factors unavoidably present in the pursuit of science. The primary goal of this thesis is to demonstrate the reality of personal science within my researching as an astronomer and to argue that the notion of personal science must play a significant role in our thinking about science education. The thesis develops in two sections: Part A of the thesis, found in Chapters 1-7, focuses on the impact that personal science should have on science education. In this section the diversity implied by the term "science" as it is presently used within science education discourse is considered and it is argued that the idea of personal science should be an essential dimension of school portrayals of science. In developing the idea of personal science a number of influential philosophies of science have been considered in light of my own experience as an astronomer and teacher. Attention is given to Holton's thematic analysis of science and Polanyi's philosophy of personal knowledge and it is argued that Polanyi's conception of personal knowledge may be used to found a more effective epistemology for science education. The problem of fostering, communicating and sharing one's personal science is addressed. The suggestion is made that a curriculum focused on one's personal experiencing of the ideas will be more effective in portraying the personal dimension of science. Narrative and story-telling are explored as effective means of communicating and sharing one's personal science. Part B of the thesis presents the results of three research projects in astronomy. The first project is the observation and analysis of the ellipsoidal binary system 42 Persei and presents the first known model of this system. The second project describes participation in an international collaborative effort to measure the modes of oscillation for two Delta-Scuti variable stars. The third project describes the search for rapid variability within a group of selected A type stars.