Communities of Practice in Online Learning Environments: A Sociocultural Perspective of Science Education

Niyazi Erdogan
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Present study reviews empirical research studies related to learning science in online learning environments as a community. Studies published between 1995 and 2015 were searched by using ERIC and EBSCOhost databases. As a result, fifteen studies were selected for review. Identified studies were analyzed with a qualitative content analysis method suggested by Li and Tsai (2013). Content from the studies regarding social interaction in online learning environments while teaching or learning science were analyzed to identify research purposes, theoretical foundations, and learning foci. Results indicated of the 15 studies, six studies were built on a specific learning theory. Of the 15 studies, eleven indicated that their focus was socio-contextual learning. Scientific process was studied in eight studies. Six focused on scientific knowledge, five focused on engagement, four considered effect as their focus, and one studied problem solving. The importance of online learning environments for learning science was pointed to better integrate technology and education.

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