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ERIC Number: ED406190
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Mar-23
Pages: 11
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
What Constitutes a Scientific Explanation?
Edgington, Judith R.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of scientific explanations used in science education. Science educators agree with philosophers that explanation is the very purpose of science itself and explanation tasks are commonly used to assess students' understanding. However, little research is done on the nature of the explanations given by individuals who have received formal science instruction. A review of the views on explanation expressed by philosophers, physicists, and science educators suggests that these groups not only hold different perspectives, but they are concerned with different aspects of the problem. Philosophical analyses highlight the pragmatic factors involved in explanations as well as their logical structure. Physicists view explanations as part of "playing by the rules" of the scientific domain which are very distinct from the rules used in everyday domains. Studies in the nature of explanation in science education stand on looser philosophical grounds. These studies are naturally interested in types of teaching explanations and in students' explanations, which represent diverse groups of individuals with very different characteristics and in many different settings. Findings suggest that the potential in this area of research has yet to be recognized. Contains 41 references. (Author)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A