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Teaching the nature of science through scientific errors

Authors

  • Douglas Allchin

    Corresponding author
    1. Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science and Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
    • Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science and Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
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Abstract

Error in science is a prime occasion to teach the nature of science, especially the central feature of tentativeness. Error types also reflect corresponding methodologies of science, critical for practicing science and (in a context of scientific literacy) analyzing its claims. Effective efforts in teaching about error will ideally be informed by earlier educational perspectives and a schema for inventorying and organizing error types. Approaches using student-directed inquiry have limits, whereas guided-inquiry historical case studies seem appropriate vehicles. On a larger scale, one may also envision a prospective learning progression on successively deeper understandings of error in science. Sample case studies and opportunities for further reading are identified. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed 96:904–926, 2012

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