טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentKahana Ora
SubjectHigh School Science Majors' Views of the Nature of
Science
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Tali Tal
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Nature of Science (NOS) refers to the values and assumptions inherent to scientific knowledge and its development. Understanding NOS is essential to understanding what type of information is scientifically sound and reliable. Students studying NOS are expected to use their knowledge when making decisions about complex issues related to science. Although teaching NOS has been continually emphasized in science education, researchers claim that students do not possess adequate understanding. The misconceptions of NOS can be associated with the ineffectiveness of curricular or instructional approaches. The purpose of this study was to examine if majoring in the sciences in high school affects students' understanding about NOS.

This study employed a quasi-experimental pre/post design. An open-ended questionnaire in the form of a socio-scientific issue was developed to assess students' understanding of NOS. Five aspects were assessed: (a) the empiric nature of scientific knowledge, (b) its subjective nature, (c) its tentative nature (d) its limitations, and (e) the influence of society and culture on scientific knowledge. The questionnaire was administered to 588 students, at the onset of the science major program at the beginning of 11th grade, and at the outset of the program at the end of 12th grade. The possible impact of the instruction on students' views was addressed by 37 science teachers. In an open-ended questionnaire and in an interview, teachers of the classes that participated in the study described their instruction about NOS.

Findings show that although most of the students held informed views as expressed in all single aspects, only 10% exhibited informed views in all aspects. In addition, we found the NOS understanding to be partial and superficial; there was no correlation between the answers about different aspects of NOS. According to the teachers, teaching NOS was limited, not explicit and did not link between different aspects. The small improvement in understanding NOS found after two years reflects the limited and non-systematic teaching of NOS. Other factors that could explain this small improvement are: (a) lack of appropriate relevant subjects that deal with NOS in the curriculum; (b) teaching methods that do not encourage discussion about NOS; (c) textbooks describing science as "clean" and linear.

The findings of this study enable the making of recommendations on ways to develop an understanding of NOS in high school studies. The research can offer guidelines for science curriculum developers, for science teacher educators, and for science teachers.