Associate Professor Ian Robottom, School of Scientific and Developmental Studies, Deakin University
Western science and Islamic learners: informing constructivism, quality learning and 'internationalising the curriculum’
The proposed research focuses on the experiences of Islamic-background learners in (western) science education. The project will explore perceived dissonances between western science and Islamic belief as an issue for (i) the highly visible discourse of constructivism in science education; (ii) one of the policy challenges of this University (that of 'internationalising the curriculum’); and (iii) one of the priority research challenges of this Faculty (that of 'Quality Learning’). The proposed research will build on previous work conducted by Dr Sharifah (Sharifah 2003) in Malaysia, conducting a more qualitative study in Islamic schools in Australia and locating the work within a constructivist discourse. Such research has the promise of not only exploring and explicating some of the issues experienced by teachers and learners in Islamic science education contexts (and thereby contributing to our understanding of the idea of 'quality learning’), but also expanding our grasp of the expressions, implications and limitations of the constructivist hypothesis in education. In this sense it has a transformative agenda by working to improve access and experience of the generally highly valued science curriculum for Muslim students who are in varying ways at risk of marginalization in existing frameworks.