On context in phenomenographic research on understanding heat and temperature
Paper i proceeding, 2001

Starting from an empirical study of lay adults' everyday understanding of the scientific concepts of heat and temperature, we have found it necessary to distinguish between different meanings of the notion of context in phenomenographic research. In order to reveal interesting and important differences in the ways in which a phenomenon is experienced, the phenomenographic researcher relegates experience of the context to the background. To confuse the variation in ways of experiencing the context(s) of the study with the variation in ways of experiencing the phenomenon of study is to risk losing fundamental insights. This does not mean, however, that the researcher can neglect the context(s), even if it is not of main interest. Since the research object of a phenomenographic study is "variation in ways of experiencing something", we discuss context as experienced and interwoven with the experience of the phenomenon. We argue that the experienced context, the context as created and understood by the researcher, and the relation between these are relevant to varying degrees and in varying ways at different stages of the research project. In our paper we see the experienced context from the perspective of "who is experiencing" the context: the individual, the collective, or the researcher (whether as phenomenographer or as physicist). This will be illustrated from the empirical data. The proposed distinctions provide a better ground for generalising the results of the study, since they help us to understand the differences between the research situation(s) and the research object(s).


Tom Adawi

Centrum för pedagogisk utveckling

Anders Berglund

Åke Ingerman

Institutionen för mikroelektronik och nanovetenskap

Shirley Booth

Centrum för pedagogisk utveckling

The 9th EARLI conference, Fribourg, August 2001, Fribourg, Switzerland


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