How individuals learn about a topic, form an opinion about the world, or practically apply their skills to make and do things, depends on their background and the influences around them, for example, family, friends, social opinion, economic disposition and cultural beliefs. We construct our knowledge about the world through our lifetime experiences.
The following Perspective was recently published in our companion journal npj Science of Learning: Context-based learning for Inhibition of alternative conceptions: the next step forward in science education.
The topic is an interesting one in the context of how we apply our knowledge about science to shape government policy, manage our businesses or just bare basics like organising our homes. For example, weather forecasters alert us to possible hazards like floods or cyclones, geological records predict earthquakes and tsunamis, information critical to our safety and wellbeing.
This research paper takes into consideration that not everyone is fluent in science and even though information is collected by researchers and communicated methodically via science journals the content may be misinterpreted by the reader. How the information is applied can often lead to conflict, depending on the perspective of people involved, what they want to achieve with that information and their personal expertise in that field.
The authors suggest a ‘synthetic learning model’, which aims to improve peoples understanding about science, helping them master new concepts and methods of doing things, without rejecting new information altogether. It is a fascinating study because the authors demonstrate how learning is connected and influenced by our interactions with everything and everyone around us.
The full Perspective is open access and freely available to read and download here.