Nature of science and primary sources
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The study of the Nature of Science (NOS) refers to the techniques and principles that are distinctive to scientific processes. Teaching students these techniques and principles are an essential part of helping students become productive global citizens, who can use scientific knowledge to make informed decisions. In this investigation, students analyzed historical primary source documents related to the area of instruction, followed by explicit reflection on elements of the Nature of Science understandings from the Next Generation Science Standards. The purpose of the study was to see if explicit reflection would increase student proficiency along the nature of science progression. The analysis and reflection was completed over a period of 14 weeks during the study of genetics and evolution. During this period, students analyzed primary sources and completed Primary Source Analysis Tools, answered questions explicitly related to the elements of the Nature of Science understandings, and engaged in classroom discussion. Data was collected through pre- and post- treatment interviews, Likert Scales, Primary Source Analysis Tools, and student written responses to questions. Results showed that using explicit reflection on nature of science understandings during the analysis of primary sources resulted in significant gains in student comprehension for several Nature of Science Understandings. There were more gains made in understandings closely related to the Crosscutting Concepts than there were in understandings related to the Science and Engineering Practices. This classroom research reinforces the importance of explicit reflection on the NOS understandings to show growth.