Teaching the nature of science through history and pseudoscience
Pfeifer, Ronald Mark
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Students in high school science classes often have a poor grasp of what the process of science actually entails. The Nature of Science (NOS) needs to be taught explicitly but teachers often do not do so because it is an area often misunderstood and poorly presented in textbooks and curricula. This study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of teaching the NOS through the use of a series of brief lessons on topics from history and pseudoscience. Twelve intervention lessons were presented in a variety of formats over a nine week period to students in three high school chemistry classes. A total of 56 students of a range of academic abilities participated in the study. Data collection instruments were developed to measure understanding of eight defined aspects of the NOS as well as student engagement and attitudes toward studying chemistry. Students were also interviewed and observed during the lessons. At the conclusion of the research students demonstrated an increased and more robust understanding of all aspects of the NOS. Data also showed that the lessons in history and pseudoscience were effective for student engagement. The lessons were regarded as interesting and fun and helped provide context for curricular material.