Thesis ID: CBB566169313

Engaging Experiments: U.S. Science Education Before the Laboratory Method (2022)

unapi

The direct involvement of students in conducting experiments in order to learn science has been a common part of U.S. educational practice since the late 19th century, the result of the rapid spread of what was known as the “laboratory method” of teaching. Those promoting the laboratory method recognized it as a new educational approach, often crediting it to European exemplars that were then “imported” into American educational institutions. Yet the extended history of science instruction in the U.S., including earlier attempts at laboratory-based instruction, raises questions about the American context of this pedagogical development and how earlier generations of scientists prepared themselves and their students for scientific work. In this dissertation, educational uses of the laboratory and the experiment during this earlier period are examined through the work of three American scientists in the early-to-mid 19th century: Benjamin Silliman (Sr.), professor at Yale; Amos Eaton, professor at Rensselaer School/Institute (later Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); and Eben N. Horsford, professor at Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School. In examining the ways in which these scientists integrated the scientific experiment into their educational endeavors, this work shows that instructional uses of science experiments examined reflect complex interactions between scientific epistemology (ideas of how scientific knowledge is produced) and educational philosophy (ideas of how individual knowledge is developed through education). Furthermore, this dissertation establishes an important prehistory for the development of the laboratory method, particularly considering how experimental science became part of the tumultuous landscape of American higher education as academic institutions sought to determine their best form and purpose.

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Authors & Contributors
Garik, Peter
Barreto, Elton de Oliveira
Beek, Viola van
Buchwald, Jed Z.
Clow, Nani N.
Cowles, Henry M.
Journals
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Science and Education
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
History of Education
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Publishers
Cambridge University
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
Palgrave Macmillan
Yale University Press
University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
Concepts
Science education and teaching
Teaching; pedagogy
Experiments and experimentation
Laboratories
History of science, as a discipline
Universities and colleges
People
Auzoux, Louis Thomas Jerôme
Conant, James Bryant
Descartes, René
Ewing, John
Lodge, Oliver
Newton, Isaac
Time Periods
19th century
21st century
20th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
18th century
Places
United States
Great Britain
Germany
Brazil
Finland
France
Institutions
University of Chicago
University of Pennsylvania
National Science Foundation (U.S.)
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