ERIC Number: EJ1130985
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Knowledge, Beliefs and Pedagogy: How the Nature of Science Should Inform the Aims of Science Education (and Not Just When Teaching Evolution)
Taber, Keith S.
Cultural Studies of Science Education, v12 n1 p81-91 Mar 2017
Lisa Borgerding's work highlights how students can understand evolution without necessarily committing to it, and how learners may come to see it as one available way of thinking amongst others. This is presented as something that should be considered a successful outcome when teaching about material that many students may find incompatible with their personal worldviews. These findings derive from work exploring a cause célèbre of the science education community--the teaching of natural selection in cultural contexts where learners feel they have strong reasons for rejecting evolutionary ideas. Accepting that students may understand but not commit to scientific ideas that are (from some cultural perspectives) controversial may easily be considered as a form of compromise position when teaching canonical science prescribed in curriculum but resisted by learners. Yet if we take scholarship on the nature of science seriously, and wish to reflect the nature of scientific knowledge in science teaching, then the aim of science education should always be to facilitate understanding of, "yet" to avoid belief in, the ideas taught in science lessons. The philosophy of science suggests that scientific knowledge needs to be understood as theoretical in nature, as conjectural and provisional; and the history of science warns of the risks of strongly committing to any particular conceptualisation as a final account of some feature of nature. Research into student thinking and learning in science suggests that learning science is often a matter of coming to understand a new viable way of thinking about a topic to complement established ways of thinking. Science teaching should then seek to have students appreciate scientific ideas as viable ways of making sense of the currently available empirical evidence, but should not be about persuading students of the truth of any particular scientific account.
Descriptors: Beliefs, Teaching Methods, Science Education, Evolution, Cultural Context, Outcomes of Education, Genetics, Learning Processes, Thinking Skills, Educational Philosophy, Controversial Issues (Course Content)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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