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written by Irene Y. Salter and Leslie J. Atkins
There is debate in the science education literature about how best to improve students' understanding of the nature of science: Can an "immersion" experience in the process of doing science like scientists outperform explicit instruction on the nature of science? Central in resolving that debate is the development of appropriate measures of students' understanding of the nature of science. We report on a course in which students engaged in sophisticated scientific practices, and yet student responses to a standard nature of science survey showed surprisingly few pre-post changes. We argue that this data suggests that when students do science like scientists do, they gain a grasp of scientific practice that cannot be measured by declarative means such as surveys and interviews.
Physics Education Research Conference 2012
Part of the PER Conference series
Philadelphia, PA: August 1-2, 2012
Volume 1513, Pages 362-365
Subjects ADS Supplements Resource Types
Education - Applied Research
- Active Learning
= Inquiry Learning
Education - Basic Research
- Assessment
= Methods
General Physics
- Scientific Reasoning
- Reference Material
= Research study
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Formats:
application/pdf
non-digital
Access Rights:
Free access and
Available for purchase
A preprint of the work is available. A hard copy of the PERC 2012 proceedings is available for purchase from the AIP.
Restriction:
© 2012 American Institute of Physics
DOI:
10.1063/1.4789727
NSF Number:
0837058
PACSs:
01.40.Di
01.40.Fk
01.70.+w
Keywords:
PERC 2012, nature of science, practice of science, scientific practice
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 1, 2013 by Zachary Davis
Record Updated:
December 17, 2013 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 24, 2013

Don't Blame the "Surveys"

Author: Joel Mintzes
Posted: October 4, 2013 at 3:32PM

Salter and Atkins found that their course on "Student-Generated Scientific Inquiry" failed to have any measurable effect on students' understanding of the nature of science (NOS) as revealed in the widely used instruments developed by Lederman et al [VNOS].  From this they go on to conclude that their course is just fine; it's just that it teaches "procedural" knowledge (ie. how to swing a golf club) rather than declarative knowledge (ie. the rules of the game).

Unfortunately, their conclusions sound more like a rationalization than an honest assessment of their intervention.  It is OK to have negative findings; they are often more instructive than supportive findings.  Sometimes negative findings offer us direction for further work:  Perhaps (1) their course needs modification or (2) there is a need to develop assessment tools that address procedural or enactive dimensions of NOS.  

But before they move on to (1) or (2), they need to acknowledge that their original hypothesis failed to stand an empirical test and to speculate on the reasons. Perhaps an inappropriate assessment tool was chosen.  Possibly the instructors failed to focus student attention on the declarative aspects of NOS.  In either case, it seems a bit irresponsible to blame the surveys as the title of their paper suggests, rather than to acknowledge the limitations of their study.

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Record Link
AIP Format
I. Salter and L. Atkins, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2012, Philadelphia, PA, 2012, WWW Document, (http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12853&DocID=3385).
AJP/PRST-PER
I. Salter and L. Atkins, Surveys fail to measure grasp of scientific practice presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2012, Philadelphia, PA, 2012, <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12853&DocID=3385>.
APA Format
Salter, I., & Atkins, L. (2012, August 1-2). Surveys fail to measure grasp of scientific practice. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2012, Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12853&DocID=3385
Chicago Format
Salter, Irene, and Leslie Atkins. "Surveys fail to measure grasp of scientific practice." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2012, Philadelphia, PA, August 1-2, 2012. http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12853&DocID=3385 (accessed 21 April 2014).
MLA Format
Salter, Irene, and Leslie Atkins. "Surveys fail to measure grasp of scientific practice." Physics Education Research Conference 2012. Philadelphia, PA: 2012. 362-365 Vol. 1513 of PER Conference. 21 Apr. 2014 <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12853&DocID=3385>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Irene Salter and Leslie Atkins", Title = {Surveys fail to measure grasp of scientific practice}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2012}, Pages = {362-365}, Address = {Philadelphia, PA}, Series = {PER Conference}, Volume = {1513}, Month = {August 1-2}, Year = {2012} }
Refer Export Format

%A Irene Salter
%A Leslie Atkins
%T Surveys fail to measure grasp of scientific practice
%S PER Conference
%V 1513
%D August 1-2 2012
%P 362-365
%C Philadelphia, PA
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12853&DocID=3385
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2012
%O August 1-2
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Salter, Irene
%A Atkins, Leslie
%D August 1-2 2012
%T Surveys fail to measure grasp of scientific practice
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2012
%C Philadelphia, PA
%V 1513
%P 362-365
%S PER Conference
%8 August 1-2
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12853&DocID=3385


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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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