Those responsible for educating the next generation of citizens and scientists, science teachers, are woefully underprepared to teach science. This is despite the fact that as far back as 20 years ago national reform documents specifically targeted unaddressed areas in scientific literacy. Since then many states (e.g., Texas Education Agency, 2008; Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2009) have focused upon these areas where the populace is scientifically illiterate. However, summarizing the last 20 years of research, the Handbook of Research on Science Education (2007) draws a bleak picture where teachers may have no clear concept of the processes, beliefs, values and commitments involved in the scientific endeavor. In addition, according to the International Handbook of Science Education (in press, 2011) one of the serious consequences of not teaching the nature of science and inquiry may be the barrier to the “acquisition and use of other science knowledge.” To understand the full implication of this statement a brief description of science is necessary.
Science is often viewed as being comprised of three parts: a body of knowledge, a process, and “a way of constructing knowledge about the natural world . . . that distinguishes it from other disciplines or ways of knowing” (Lederman, 2007). The second and third parts are commonly referred to as scientific inquiry (SI) and nature of science (NOS), respectively. The fundamental “understandings about” and “abilities to do” scientific inquiry are critical to the scientific enterprise (National Research Council, 2000). In addition, the beliefs, values and commitments adopted by scientists (i.e., NOS) are also fundamental to the development of scientific knowledge according the National Academy of Science (1996) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1990).
Attendees of the workshop will participate in activities that teach students through inquiry to
identify the characteristics of scientific knowledge. The simple and engaging activities provide
students with hands-on experience from which to induce content covered in the TAKS including
subject matter (e.g., density), nature of science (e.g., tentativeness), and scientific inquiry
(e.g., use of scientific methods). In addition, teachers will learn the principles and techniques
underlying effective inquiry instruction of nature of science and scientific inquiry (i.e., as content).
- Participants will be able to define the seven aspects of nature of science and common misconceptions associated with each one.
- Participants will be able to identify four aspects of scientific inquiry and common misconceptions associated with each one.
- Participants will be able to identify aspects of nature of science and scientific inquiry from science activities and vignettes from the history of science.
- Participants will be able to describe the various levels or stages of inquiry (i.e., as an instructional strategy).