Student conceptualizations of the nature of science in response to a socioscientific issue

  • Sadler T
  • Chambers F
  • Zeidler D
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Abstract

This study investigates student conceptualizations of the nature of science (NOS) and how students interpret and evaluate conflicting evidence regarding a socioscientific issue. Eighty-four high school students participated in the study by reading contradictory reports about the status of global warming and responding to questions designed to elicit ideas pertinent to the research goals. A subsample of 30 students was interviewed in order to triangulate data from the written responses. Data were analyzed using a qualitative methodological approach. The participants displayed a range of views on three distinct aspects of NOS: empiricism, tentativeness, and social embeddedness. Findings indicate that interpretation and evaluation of conflicting evidence in a socioscientific context is influenced by a variety of factors related to NOS such as data interpretation and social interactions including individuals' own articulation of personal beliefs and scientific knowledge. Implications for science teaching and learning are discussed.

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Authors

  • Troy D. Sadler

  • F. William Chambers

  • Dana L. Zeidler

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