ERIC Number: ED344745
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
The Natural World as Understood by Selected College Students: A World View Methodological Exploration.
Cobern, William W.
World view variations potentially interfere with science education, particularly when instruction proceeds unaware of the importance of fundamental epistemological structure of learning. The research reported here specifically addresses the cognitive culture of women college students with respect to conceptualizations of nature, a delimitation of world view. Equally important objectives were to develop further the logic of justification and to test the effectiveness of interpretive, ethnographic methods. The approach to cultural study taken in the current research involved the use of logico-structuralism, a world view model adapted from cultural anthropology. The subjects of the study were 20 college students enrolled in a science course. Data were collected via semistructured ethnographic interviews. The structure came from projection devices used to encourage the participants to talk about the natural world. Three elicitation devices were employed to elicit conversation beyond what the photograph and initial question could accomplish alone. The analysis of interview transcripts followed a grounded theory format. This process led to inferences about students' fundamental views toward the natural world. Several students did not connect knowledge of the natural world with science. Many of the students had a strong aesthetic sense about the natural world. They preferentially understood nature in terms of beauty and design. These students had a strong sense that nature must be conserved. Finally, these students generally viewed the natural world as orderly. If the science classroom is anything like that suggested by some research, then there is indeed a mismatch between many students' views of the natural world (e.g., aesthetic) and the view presented in science classrooms (e.g., materialistic). An explanation of elicitation devices, conceptualizations of nature codes, and concept maps and narratives of the respondents are appended. (40 references) (KR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (Lake Geneva, WI, April 7-10, 1991). Concept maps will not reproduce clearly due to filled print.