Thesis ID: CBB479671099

The Emergence of the Laboratory Method and the Displacement of Natural Philosophy by Physics in American High School Textbooks (1860-1900) (2018)


Advocating for the laboratory method was a distinguishing feature of textbooks as physics displaced natural philosophy in American schools during the second half of the nineteenth century as the dominant tradition of teaching physical science. This dissertation examines digital editions of textbooks in common use during the period to tell the narrative of this emergence and transformation. I contend that the transformation from the tradition of natural philosophy to that of physics succeeded less because of the agency of individual actors, but because schools were responding to the perceived needs and changing realities of their societies. Understanding the how this transformation occurred, however, requires examining the contributions made by individual actors. Teachers frequently look to textbooks for guidance, even if they do not follow them entirely. This dissertation examines the changing series of textbooks published during the period from the middle of the 19th century to its end, and compares the instructions given to teachers in the introductory sections to trace the evolution of physical science instruction over time. The significance of this dissertation lies in its contribution to our evolving understanding of science education and what leads to educational change.

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Authors & Contributors
Simon, Josep
Wittje, Roland
Cuenca-Lorente, Mar
Arakawa, Hideo
Armitage, Kevin Connor
Foellmer, René
Science and Education
科学史研究 Kagakusi Kenkyu (History of Science)
Journal of the Guilded Age and Progressive Era
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences
Chinese Journal for the History of Science and Technology
Böhlau Verlag
University of Chicago Press
Franz Steiner Verlag
University of Chicago
University of South Florida
Dowling College
Science education and teaching
Primary and secondary education
Laboratory techniques and procedures
Cattell, James McKeen
Ganot, Pierre Benjamin Adolphe
Atkinson, Edmund
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century
Qing dynasty (China, 1644-1912)
20th century, late
United States
Prussia (Germany)

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