Developing views of nature of science in an authentic context: An explicit approach to bridging the gap between nature of science and scientific inquiry

Authors

  • Reneé S. Schwartz,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences and The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA
    • Department of Biological Sciences and The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA
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  • Norman G. Lederman,

    1. Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL 60616, USA
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  • Barbara A. Crawford

    1. Department of Education, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
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Abstract

Reform efforts emphasize teaching science to promote contemporary views of the nature of science (NOS) and scientific inquiry. Within the framework of situated cognition, the assertion is that engagement in inquiry activities similar to those of scientists provides a learning context conducive to developing knowledge about the methods and activities through which science progresses, and, in turn, to developing desired views of NOS. The inclusion of a scientific inquiry context to teach about NOS has intuitive appeal. Yet, whether the learners are students, teachers, or scientists, the empirical research does not generally support the claim that engaging in scientific inquiry alone enhances conceptions of NOS. We studied developments in NOS conceptions during a science research internship course for preservice secondary science teachers. In addition to the research component, the course included seminars and journal assignments. Interns' NOS views were assessed in a pre/post format using the Views of Nature of Science questionnaire, [VNOS-C] and interviews. Results indicate most interns showed substantial developments in NOS knowledge. Three factors were identified as important for NOS developments during the internship: (1) reflection, (2) context, and (3) perspective. Reflective journal writing and seminars had the greatest impact on NOS views. The science research component provided a context for reflection. The interns' role perspective appeared to impact their abilities to effectively reflect. Interns who assumed a reflective stance were more successful in deepening their NOS conceptions. Those who maintained a scientist's identity were less successful in advancing their NOS views through reflection. In light of these results, we discuss the significance and challenges to teaching about NOS within inquiry contexts. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed88:610–645, 2004

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