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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explicate the impact of an 8-week science apprenticeship program on a group of high-ability secondary students' understandings of the nature of science and scientific inquiry. Ten volunteers (Grades 10–11) completed a modified version of the Views of Nature of Science, Form B both before and after their apprenticeship to assess their conceptions of key aspects of the nature of science and scientific inquiry. Semistructured exit interviews provided an opportunity for students to describe the nature of their apprenticeship experiences and elaborate on their written questionnaire responses. Semistructured exit interviews were also conducted with the scientists who served as mentors for each of the science apprentices. For the most part, students held conceptions about the nature of science and scientific inquiry that were inconsistent with those described in current reforms. Participating science mentors held strong convictions that their apprentices had learned much about the scientific enterprise in the course of doing the science in their apprenticeship. Although most students did appear to gain knowledge about the processes of scientific inquiry, their conceptions about key aspects of the nature of science remained virtually unchanged. Epistemic demand and reflection appeared to be crucial components in the single case where a participant experienced substantial gains in her understandings of the nature of science and inquiry. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 40: 487–509, 2003