Improving Nature of Science Understandings through Scientific Inquiry

Abstract

The main goal of this naturalistic case study was to examine prospective secondary science teachers’ developing understanding of nature of science while engaging in guided scientific inquiry. A computer simulation of inheritance processes was used in combination with small-group discussions and collaborating learning groups to enhance participants’ understandings of nature of science. Structuring scientific inquiry as investigation to develop explanations presents meaningful context for the enhancement of understanding of the nature of science. The context of the study was a teaching and learning course focused on inquiry and technology. Twelve prospective science teachers participated in this study. Multiple data sources included pre- and post-module questionnaires of participants’ view of nature of science, inquiry project reports, and semi-structured interviews with seven selected participants. Findings suggest that carefully designed inquiry experiences can help students to develop an understanding about the types of questions scientists in that field ask, the methodological and epistemological issues that constrain their pursuit of answers, and the ways in which they construct and share their explanations. Prior to this experience the prospective teachers held uninformed views of nature of science. After the module, participants demonstrated extended expertise in their understandings of following aspects of nature of science: a) the iterative nature of science; b) the tentativeness of specific knowledge claims; c) the degree to which scientists rely on empirical data and broader conceptual, metaphysical commitments; d) the need for conceptual consistency; e) multiple methods of investigations and multiple interpretations of data; and f) social aspects of science.



Author Information
Mustafa Çakır, Marmara University, Turkey

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2015
Stream: Student learning

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