n South African Journal of Higher Education - Knowing, acting and being : epistemological and ontological access in a Science Extended Studies course




Gross participation and throughput rates in higher education institutions in South Africa indicate an inequitable and poorly functioning system. This interpretive study argues for an approach that enhances epistemological and ontological access and examines how an intervention that includes an overt approach in dealing with the nature of science, coupled with student involvement in an independent research project in a Science Extended Studies course, can enhance such access to higher education study. Analysis of project outcomes and student critical reflections indicated access to scientific and academic Discourses was enhanced through: developing improved procedural and conceptual scientific knowledge; meaningful engagement with the language, norms and conventions of the Discourse; integrating everyday knowledge into more abstract scientific knowledge; awareness of the process of validation of scientific knowledge, of the limitations of science, and of the impact of science on society; and transforming personally by developing scientific discursive identity and a sense of belonging. In conclusion, it is argued that curriculum interventions that focus on epistemological and ontological aspects of learning could appropriately be used throughout the higher education science sector.


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