7. Grey Boxes in the Production of Process Narratives--A Case of Creating a Grey Box
Barry Saferstein [+]
California State University, San Marcos
Chapter Seven examines grey boxes in regard to interpretive ambiguity, the effect of a critical mass of interpretive contingencies, forms of expression as resources for understanding, and localized aspects of grey boxes. Expanding on an example introduced earlier, the chapter examines four students and a teacher discussing a learning task featuring the use of a trait inheritance computer simulation. A result of the 10.5-minute discussion is the students’ acceptance of the term, ‘blueprints’, as a placeholder for missing information about the cellular genetic processes. ‘Blueprints’ eliminates the interpretive contingencies related to finding and coherently linking missing information about the biochemical functioning of genes that affects the development of traits. The grey box helps the students develop a useful process narrative. As a consequence of the conventional Mendelian curriculum, students and teachers spend much time and effort constructing a framework to cover the explanatory gap created by the absence of information about cellular biochemical processes. Students’ awareness of contemporary genetic terms and concepts adds contingencies to their interpretation activities. When students repeatedly confront the information gap separating genes and traits during learning activities, they develop grey boxes that alleviate their disbelief or confusion. Grey boxes ease the cognitive load of interpreting and remembering multiple contingencies.