Teaching nature of science within a controversial topic: Integrated versus nonintegrated



This study investigated the influence of two different explicit instructional approaches in promoting more informed understandings of nature of science (NOS) among students. Participants, a total of 42 students, comprised two groups in two intact sections of ninth grade. Participants in the two groups were taught environmental science by their regular classroom teacher, with the difference being the context in which NOS was explicitly taught. For the “integrated” group, NOS instruction was related to the science content about global warming. For the “nonintegrated” group, NOS was taught through a set of activities that specifically addressed NOS issues and were dispersed across the content about global warming. The treatment for both groups spanned 6 weeks and addressed a unit about global warming and NOS. An open-ended questionnaire, in conjunction with semistructured interviews, was used to assess students' views before and after instruction. Results showed improvements in participants' views of NOS regardless of whether NOS was integrated within the regular content about global warming. Comparison of differences between the two groups showed “slightly” greater improvement in the informed views of the integrated group participants. On the other hand, there was greater improvement in the transitional views of the nonintegrated group participants. Therefore, the overall results did not provide any conclusive evidence in favor of one approach over the other. Implications on the teaching and learning of NOS are discussed. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 43: 395–418, 2006