RiNA Projects

Research-informed & Negotiated Action (RiNA) Projects
Because governments and others struggle to overcome many STSE harms, STEPWISE prioritizes preparing (via STEPWISE Pedagogy) students to critique STSE Relationships and develop and carry-out Research-informed & Negotiated Action (RiNA) projects to overcome STSE harms of their concern. Such projects are not meant to be based on inquiry-based learning, in that we do not expect students to learn pre-determined ‘Products’ of S&T. Rather, we urge educators to eventually (after STEPWISE Pedagogy) allow students’ projects to be student-directed & open-ended. To ensure students do not base actions on hoaxes (e.g., DHMO), deepfakes, etc., we educate students to base their actions on their prior education, their secondary & primary research and social negotiations with peers. On this page, after descriptions of kinds of RiNA projects, sample projects conducted by students are provided.

RiNA Project ‘Steps’

RiNA projects can be carried out in many different ways and, so, there are no necessary “steps” to follow. However, to begin designing them, students can think of them following a sequence like that shown at right/below (and here). Although there are now strong traditions of foci on socioscientific issues (see here) and encouragement of students’ logical reasoning to determine their personal positions on them, the STEPWISE project encourages students to decide on STSE harms they might try to overcome. After they conduct secondary research to learn more about the issue/harm of their concern (e.g., plastic water bottle pollution), they are then asked to design & conduct primary research (e.g., a study of content and costs of commercial bottled water vs. tap water). Based on their results (and their previous education), they then can negotiate with peers personal and social actions to design and implement.

Secondary Research About STSE Relationships

STSE Harm Analyses

It may seem obvious to consider many possible relationships among fields of science & technology and societies & environments (STSE) in trying to find an STSE harm to investigate and try to overcome. However, there appear to be tendencies to limit analyses to smaller – ’cause –> effect’ relationships, such as: cancer from smoking; hurricanes from petroleum combustion; and privacy losses from surveillance. While such relationships do seem worrisome, foci on them may lead to limited actions – such as personal consumption choices. Personal actions can be helpful, but it is apparent that dramatic harm reduction can only come from broader analyses – such as, as shown at right/below, roles of capitalists, with government and transnational assistance, on STEM fields.

ANT STSE Analyses

More extensive and complex STSE analyses can involve students’ development – as illustrated at right/below – of actor-network maps to illustrate STSE relationships regarding a product (e.g., commercial shampoo) of science & technology. Actor-network analyses can, however, be relatively ‘neutral’; that is, not emphasizing dispositifs – networks of living, nonliving & symbolic entities working as a ‘machine’ to achieve certain ends, such as a dispositif supporting genetically-engineered salmon.

Students’ Actor-Network Analyses of Shampoo, Based on The Story of Stuff

Primary Research About STSE Relationships

Students Primary Research

Although students’ secondary research can reveal much about STSE relationships, including regarding adverse influences of powerful people & groups of fields of science & technology and much else, our research with teachers and others strongly suggest that motivation and direction for personal and social actions to overcome harms of their concern can be increased through students’ primary research about phenomena in STSE relationships. When many students think about science research, they often think of them in terms of experiments – which, as illustrated at right/below, generally refers to gaining evidence for effects on changes in a ‘result’ variable (e.g., rate of food decay) of forced changes in a possible ’cause’ variable (e.g., temperature). Students may not, however, be familiar with correlational studies – where investigators try to correlate (often on a graph) effects on ‘result’ variables of natural changes in possible ’cause’ variables. Correlational studies often are preferred in STSE research when experiments may harm living things or when experiments are too difficult to arrange (e.g., effects of aging on memory).

Actions to Overcome STSE Harms

STSE Action Types

Based on students’ secondary and primary research and their prior education and social negotiations, students can then design what they believe to be appropriate actions to overcome STSE harms of their concern. Besides drawing on their research findings, students may choose actions based on their personalities and perceived strengths. Introverts may, for example, choose more personal actions – like, as illustrated at right/below, reusing, reducing & recycling materials. Some more extroverted students may, alternatively, choose more social actions – such as engaging in protest marches. Given that most STSE harms appear largely resistant to change because of dispositifs supporting them (e.g., for GE salmon), the most effective actions to overcome them likely requires work to developing competing dispositifs – such as those involving dust pollution in Québec City. Due to students’ different strengths, confidence, etc., developing competing dispositifs likely requires group actions.

Propositional vs. Practical Actions

RiNA projects can vary in extents to which they actively attempt to bring about changes in phenomena of the World. As illustrated at right/below, projects mainly involving translations between the World and Signs tend to only propose changes to the World – while projects, like engineering design projects, attempt to change phenomena of the World. Examples of each are given below.

Propositional Actions
Many RiNA projects conducted by students tend to be oriented towards World –> Sign translations as they recommend changes to the World (see above). Examples of such propositional RiNA projects are given below.

Students, like others, can express themselves in different ways. Indeed, it often is best to try creating a network of co-supportive actions (i.e., a dispositif). An excellent media type to include seems to be those using formats used at RSA Animate. Perhaps more simply, a video of an interview of a prominent official (a CEO) can work well. But, perhaps very enjoyable for students are different role-playing scenarios.

French-language Propositional RiNA Projects

After reading about Iqbal Masih, a child labourer, turned activist, in Pakistan, and after experiencing STEPWISE-informed lessons & student activities, sixth-grade students in a French-as-a-Second Language course in a Canadian private school developed videos to educate people about problems associated with common commodities. Reading about oppressed children like Iqbal Masih seemed to generate much empathy for such children among these advantaged students.

‘Practical’ RiNA Projects

Rather than ‘just’ proposing changes (which is still positive) to the World regarding the World <–> Signs schema above, students may use their research findings & education, etc. to design & implement more ecojust (‘WISE‘) materialist engineering designs as Signs –> World actions, like those depicted in the videos below. In all three cases, students chose to use biodegradable material for their 3D-printed products and agreed to share their designs.

A 3D-printed school bag hook

3D-printed supports for parallettes

3D-printed customized mouse grip

App for detecting garbage

WISE Engineering Design & Mobilization

Although teachers using STEPWISE pedagogy have been able to encourage & enable students to develop innovations (and, in some cases, inventions) like those above that are designed to work well and promote outcomes for wellbeing of individuals, societies &/or environments (WISE), students often have struggled to ‘mobilize’ (popularize) values inherent to them. As suggested by the video at right/below, however, a teacher has been able to achieve this – apparently by focusing on teaching about dispositifs – and, particularly, through use of language, like alliances, more familiar to students.

Students’ Reports in JASTE of Their RiNA Projects

Secondary school students, with supports from science teachers, have written summaries of their school-based RiNA projects in three (to date) issues of the Journal for Activist Science & Technology Education. Links to these 3 issues are provided via the graphic at right/below. Student project types vary across the model for RiNA projects above.

STSE-RiNA Fairs

An excellent way to motivate, celebrate & advertise student RiNA projects to overcome harms they have determined in STSE relationships is to facilitate an STSE-RiNA Fair – engaging other teachers, students, parents and others.

Links to STEPWISE Framework Elements: