ERIC Number: ED474454
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2003-Mar-24
Students' Understanding of the Nature of Science and Their Reasoning on Socioscientific Issues: A Web-based Learning Inquiry.
Walker, Kimberly A.; Zeidler, Dana L.
This study was designed to determine how students' engagement in a learning and debate activity on a current scientific controversy influences their understanding of the nature of science and, in turn, informs their decision-making on the issue. Two high school science classrooms, totaling 38 students from 9th through 12th grade, participated in the Internet-Based unit on the topic of genetically modified foods. The unit, including introductory discussions on the nature of science, a video on the controversy of genetically modified foods, a series of online activities that presented multiple perspectives of the controversy, and follow-up interviews, took place over seven consecutive 1.5 hour period blocks. The study utilized qualitative procedures to analyze students' views on the nature of science as expressed through their answers to online and interview questions and a final classroom debate. Each student conversational turn in the debate was analyzed for references to supporting evidence and instances of moral and fallacious reasoning. While students did not make explicit reference to conceptual understandings of the nature of science in the classroom debate, the issue-based activity was successful as a pedagogical approach to facilitate and reveal students' conceptions of science. The students' answers to online questions reflected conceptions of the tentative, creative, subjective, and social aspects of science. Their high level of engagement throughout the unit supported the students' positive affective verbal response to the Internet-based, scaffolded learning environment and subject matter content. Findings from the analysis of students' mastery of the subject matter of genetic engineering and their reference to subject matter knowledge and evidence in the classroom debate suggest that NOS (nature of science) entered discussions should coincide with in-depth learning activities on the subject matter content of the controversy. Taxonomic categories and samples of thought are presented and discussed, and implications for science education are addressed. (Author)
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 (Philadelphia, PA, March 23-26, 2003).