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  1. Abstract

    This study explores the process of teacher scaffolding student engagement in epistemic tools from the critical sensemaking perspective. Epistemic tools are contextual artifacts manipulated to investigate and evaluate ideas to construct knowledge within the constraints of a disciplines' representational means. The main sources of our data are ~50 min‐long semistructured, responsive interviews with the 14 secondary school science teachers who participated in our professional learning environment (PLE) and implemented the activities from the PLE in their classrooms. We utilized the tools of discourse analysis to explore teacher sensemaking while they learned to teach science with epistemic tools. We then looked at intertextualities of meaning across multiple sets of data such as students' artifacts, pre/postsurveys, audio and video recordings of the workshops, and teachers' written implementation feedback forms. As a result, we recognized a pattern across different classrooms. Teachers would begin with a contextualized goal, and use a pedagogical strategy to scaffold their students as they worked to achieve that goal. Then, all teachers reported they faced some sort of ambiguity (such as grappling with failure, different levels of students). When faced with an ambiguity, teachers would then revise either their contextualized goal or their initial pedagogical strategy to help their students to reach their goals. Finally, we utilized constant‐comparative analysis to identify themes for teachers' contextualized goals. Four major themes emerged, including communicating connections to core ideas of science, making sense of how science works, assessing students' learning process outcomes, and fostering students' epistemic agency. The findings of the study have implications for future research and professional development activities on the use of epistemic practices and tools in classrooms with unique contextual characteristics.

     
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