New Venues for Science Teacher Education: Self-organizational Pedagogy on the Edge of Chaos


  • Lyubov Laroche
  • Cynthia Nicol
  • Jolie Mayer-Smith



This paper describes our attempt to develop a pedagogical practice informed by the concepts of complexity applied to education. The context of our study was the science methods course within an elementary teacher education program. The practice, described here, has overlapped instruction and assignment; teaching and learning; science and the arts; formal and informal education. Prospective teachers, while working in teams of 4–5, taught mini-lessons about science topics to 6th and 7th graders in field settings, and then, collaboratively with the children, produced scientific/artistic digital videos about these topics. As a next step, prospective teachers shared their teaching experiences, classroom observations, and self-produced videos with their university peers. Upon completing this practice, many prospective teachers have changed their ways of thinking about science and science education. We discuss how this practice is informed by and further informs such concepts of complexity as self-organization, chaotic attractors, fluidity, fuzzy boundaries, the edge of chaos, improvisation, adaptation, and transformation.

Author Biographies

Lyubov Laroche

Lyubov Laroche is an Assistant Director and Faculty in the Everett Education Center, Woodring School of Education at the Western Washington University. Her teaching and research interests include teacher education, science education, imaginative approach to teaching and learning, chaos and complexity applied to education, and educational technology.

Cynthia Nicol

Cynthia Nicol is an Associate Professor in mathematics education in the Department of Curriculum Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her current research projects include community-based action research, Indigenous education, culturally responsive pedagogy, and the use of technology for learning to teach mathematics in multiple contexts.

Jolie Mayer-Smith

Jolie Mayer-Smith is an Associate Professor and Deputy Head in the Department of Curriculum Studies at University of British Columbia. Her teaching and research interests include teacher education, post-secondary science teaching and learning, genetics education, and intergenerational environmental education.






Research Articles