The Role of Trust in Building Science Knowledge: Exploring the Relational Dimension of Epistemological Development
Christina Krist

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Primary Discipline

This study examines the connections between interpersonal trust-building and students’ participation in authentic disciplinary learning, using science education as a particularly timely and generative context of focus. Current reforms in science education aim to engage students in science knowledge building practices (NGSS Lead States, 2013; NRC, 2012), which requires substantial amounts of talk, interaction, and discussion (Quinn, Lee, & Valdés, 2012). I aim to explicate not simply that, but how these relational dynamics are integral to disciplinary learning. Drawing on literature on children’s epistemological development in practice (Berland et al., 2016), affect-based trust (McAllister, 1995), and feminist critiques of science and schooling (Harding, 1986; Noddings, 1988), I examine how trust developed in an 8th grade science class over the course of two content-area units. This case provides a strategic window into the co-constituencies of and tensions between relational and disciplinary messages in epistemological development. Exploring the nature of these interactions will contribute to our understanding of how to build relational dynamics in classroom communities that support rich disciplinary learning, and how those relational dynamics shape the version of the nature of the discipline about which students learn.
About Christina Krist
Stina Krist is an assistant professor of science education in the Curriculum & Instruction department in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences in 2016 from Northwestern University, thanks in part to an NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship. She was also a postdoctoral associate at the University of Maryland College Park before joining the faculty at Illinois. Her current projects include examining how students demonstrate care in the midst of knowledge-building interactions; exploring teacher thinking and learning about how to support students’ epistemic agency in science; and developing software tools for analysis of video data.

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