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published by the Visionlearning
supported by the National Science Foundation
written by Anthony Carpi and Anne Egger
This instructional module introduces four types of research methods: experimentation, description, comparison, and modeling. It was developed to help learners understand that the classic definition of the "scientific method" does not capture the dynamic nature of science investigation. As learners explore each methodology, they develop an understanding of why scientists use multiple methods to gather data and develop hypotheses. It is appropriate for introductory physics courses and for teachers seeking content support in research practices.

This resource is part of Visionlearning, an award-winning set of classroom-tested modules for science education.
Editor's Note: Secondary students often cling to the notion that scientific research follows a stock, standard "scientific method". They may be unaware of the differences between experimental research, correlative studies, observation, and computer-based modeling research. In this resource, they can glimpse each methodology in the context of a real study done by respected scientists.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Research Design & Methodology
= Data
= Evaluation
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Modeling
- High School
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Tutorial
- Assessment Material
= Test
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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© 2000 visionlearning.com, 2000, http://www.visionlearning.com/docs/terms.php#copyright
classroom-tested, correlation, correlative studies, evidence-based lessons, evidence-based resources, experiment, experimental design, experimental research, observation, research methodology, science modules, scientific method, scientific process, validity
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 1, 2010 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 4, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
September 26, 2010

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

1. The Nature of Science

1A. The Scientific Worldview
  • 6-8: 1A/M1a. When similar investigations give different results, the scientific challenge is to judge whether the differences are trivial or significant, and it often takes further studies to decide.
1B. Scientific Inquiry
  • 3-5: 1B/E1. Scientific investigations may take many different forms, including observing what things are like or what is happening somewhere, collecting specimens for analysis, and doing experiments.
  • 3-5: 1B/E4. Scientists do not pay much attention to claims about how something they know about works unless the claims are backed up with evidence that can be confirmed, along with a logical argument.
  • 6-8: 1B/M1b. Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
  • 6-8: 1B/M2ab. If more than one variable changes at the same time in an experiment, the outcome of the experiment may not be clearly attributable to any one variable. It may not always be possible to prevent outside variables from influencing an investigation (or even to identify all of the variables).
  • 9-12: 1B/H1. Investigations are conducted for different reasons, including to explore new phenomena, to check on previous results, to test how well a theory predicts, and to compare theories.
1C. The Scientific Enterprise
  • 6-8: 1C/M7. Accurate record-keeping, openness, and replication are essential for maintaining an investigator's credibility with other scientists and society.

12. Habits of Mind

12D. Communication Skills
  • 9-12: 12D/H3. Choose appropriate summary statistics to describe group differences, always indicating the spread of the data as well as the data's central tendencies.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Key Ideas and Details (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11—CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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Record Link
AIP Format
A. Carpi and A. Egger, (Visionlearning, 2000), WWW Document, (http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49/The-Practice-of-Science/148).
A. Carpi and A. Egger, Visionlearning: Research Methods: The Practice of Science, (Visionlearning, 2000), <http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49/The-Practice-of-Science/148>.
APA Format
Carpi, A., & Egger, A. (2010, September 26). Visionlearning: Research Methods: The Practice of Science. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from Visionlearning: http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49/The-Practice-of-Science/148
Chicago Format
Carpi, Anthony, and Anne Egger. Visionlearning: Research Methods: The Practice of Science. Visionlearning, September 26, 2010. http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49/The-Practice-of-Science/148 (accessed 19 February 2017).
MLA Format
Carpi, Anthony, and Anne Egger. Visionlearning: Research Methods: The Practice of Science. Visionlearning, 2000. 26 Sep. 2010. National Science Foundation. 19 Feb. 2017 <http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49/The-Practice-of-Science/148>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Anthony Carpi and Anne Egger", Title = {Visionlearning: Research Methods: The Practice of Science}, Publisher = {Visionlearning}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {19 February 2017}, Month = {September 26, 2010}, Year = {2000} }
Refer Export Format

%A Anthony Carpi
%A Anne Egger
%T Visionlearning: Research Methods: The Practice of Science
%D September 26, 2010
%I Visionlearning
%U http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49/The-Practice-of-Science/148
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Carpi, Anthony
%A Egger, Anne
%D September 26, 2010
%T Visionlearning: Research Methods: The Practice of Science
%I Visionlearning
%V 2017
%N 19 February 2017
%8 September 26, 2010
%9 text/html
%U http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49/The-Practice-of-Science/148

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Visionlearning: Research Methods: The Practice of Science:

Is Part Of Visionlearning: The Process of Science

This is the full instructional unit by Visionlearning, The Process of Science. It contains 15 sections, including research methodologies, data collection/analysis, error and uncertainty, scientific ethics, understanding scientific articles, and more.

relation by Caroline Hall

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