Middle school science teachers' conceptions of the nature of scientific knowledge

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
John Garrett Tomlinson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
H. Svi Shapiro

Abstract: The purpose of this interpretive inquiry study was to ascertain the conceptions of the nature of scientific knowledge of middle school science teachers. Initially, a model of the nature of scientific knowledge was developed from the literature. Scientific knowledge is characterized as humanistic, social, historical, based on specific beliefs, observation based, a result of inquiry, composed of knowledge structures, and unique. The model served as a comprehensive framework against which to compare teachers' conceptions of the nature of scientific knowledge. The study involved six successful middle school science teachers from urban and suburban/rural school districts. Each subject participated in two unstructured interviews with the researcher. Results indicate that the teachers possessed a somewhat idealistic view of scientists, a limited conception of the role of scientific communities in the production of knowledge, a confusion of science and technology, a conception of a standardized methodology in science, a positivist perspective of knowledge, and a realist/pluralistic realist view of knowledge. In addition, subjects confused the functions of laws and theories, possessed a popular conception of scientific facts, viewed historical knowledge as cumulative, and had difficulty relating the basic assumptions of science as well as other ways of knowing. Therefore, the study found that the subjects possessed a less than adequate view of the nature of scientific knowledge.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1992
Science teachers $x Attitudes
Middle school teachers $x Attitudes
Science $x Study and teaching (Secondary)

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