NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ925112
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Aug
Pages: 30
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 36
ISSN: ISSN-0926-7220
Knowing, Believing, and Understanding: What Goals for Science Education?
Smith, Mike U.; Siegel, Harvey
Science & Education, v13 n6 p553-582 Aug 2004
What is a teacher to do when confronted with a student who says "I understand that theory (e.g., evolution), but I don't believe it"? The purpose of this article is to provide a rationale for answering this question. First we describe the various ways in which the terms "know/knowledge" and "believe/belief" are used and summarize the distinctions commonly used to differentiate between these terms. Second, we propose that the primary goal of science education should be "student knowledge and understanding", which we will argue typically (but not always) involves belief and typically (but not always) guides action. In those instances where a student evidences a meaningful understanding but still disbelieves, we further propose that the appropriate goal is for students to believe that the theory in question affords the best current scientific account of the relevant phenomena based on the available empirical evidence. Third, we evaluate instructional procedures for addressing the issues of knowledge, belief, and understanding recommended by recent authors before providing our own suggestions to teachers that we hope will be both more philosophically sound and more effective in the classroom.
Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A