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Keywords:

  • nature of science (NOS);
  • laboratory science;
  • middle school science;
  • inquiry

Abstract

This research investigated the effect of reflective discussions following inquiry-based laboratory activities on students' views of the tentative, empirical, subjective, and social aspects of nature of science (NOS). Thirty-eight grade six students from a Lebanese school participated in the study. The study used a pretest–posttest control-group design and focused on collecting mainly qualitative data. During each laboratory session, students worked in groups of two. Later, experimental group students answered open-ended questions about NOS then engaged in reflective discussions about NOS. Control group students answered open-ended questions about the content of the laboratory activities then participated in discussions of results of these activities. Data sources included an open-ended questionnaire used as pre- and posttest, answers to the open-ended questions that experimental group students answered individually during every session, transcribed videotapes of the reflective discussions of the experimental group, and semi-structured interviews. Results indicated that explicit and reflective discussions following inquiry-based laboratory activities enhanced students' views of the target NOS aspects more than implicit inquiry-based instruction. Moreover, implicit inquiry-based instruction did not substantially enhance the students' target NOS views. This study also identified five major challenges that students faced in their attempts to change their NOS views. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47: 1229–1252, 2010