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Science capital in curriculum design

“It can be useful to think of science capital as a bag you carry throughout life that contains all your science-related knowledge (what you know), attitudes (what you think), experiences (what you do) and contacts (who you know)” (Archer et al., 2015)

Recent classroom research has looked at effective ways to increase the amount of science capital that a young person has. The more science capital they have, the more likely they are to see that science could be for them, and to see the importance of science in their own lives.

Science capital is developed by increasing exposure to science that is relevant. It is a way of tweaking or changing the context of the content, rather than a wholesale re-write of the curriculum. Science capital can be broken down into four basic areas, all of which science teachers who are supported by a good scheme of learning, can help develop in young people:

  • What students know about science.
  • How students think about science.
  • Who students know (people involved in science).
  • What students do around science that’s not in their science class.

In the next step, we’ll look at how you might keep science capital in mind as you are planning your scheme of learning.


Think about the four areas above. Which area do you think you currently have the least information about from your students? Share how you might find out about your students’ science capital in that area.

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This article is from the free online course:

Curriculum Design for Secondary School Science

National STEM Learning Centre

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