Theses Doctoral

Assessing In-service Secondary Science Teachers’ Views of Nature of Science and Competence in Understanding Scientific Argumentation about Socio-scientific Issues

Lyu, Xiaoxin

Despite recent efforts to promote scientific argumentation, and to achieve reconceptualized views of the nature of science, including sociocultural accounts, little is known about In-service Secondary Science Teachers’ understanding of the nature of science and cognate aspects. This includes sociocultural aspects and competence in engaging in scientific argumentation about socio-scientific issues. Moreover, there is limited information on how in-service secondary science teachers’ views of the nature of science and their competence in generating scientific argumentation about socio-scientific issues are related, if at all. This also includes their professional skills in applying modern views of scientific argumentation in teaching science. This study of 13 in-service secondary science teachers used a mixed-methods approach. Descriptive statistics and correlation analysis were utilized to analyze data collected using the Scientific Epistemological Views instrument for evaluating teachers’ views of nature of science from a sociocultural perspective. Responses from the socio-scientific issue item – Global Warming – for evaluating teachers’ competence in understanding scientific argumentation were analyzed using a three-point scale rubric. Correlation analysis between five domains of the Scientific Epistemological Views survey and three components of argumentation and interview data were used to determine the relationship between teachers’ understanding of nature of science and competence in generating scientific argumentation. To future explore the evidence showing that these teachers could learn some of the basic modern ideas about scientific argumentation, I designed an online learning module with pre-post questionnaires assessing learning gains. Findings of this study highlighted that this group of teachers had an appreciable prior understanding of certain aspects of nature of science and scientific argumentation. The multi-correlation network diagrams generated from analyzing the in-service secondary science teachers’ responses to the Scientific Epistemological Views survey items highlighted the cohesiveness of their group-based percepts regarding the nature of science. It also showed that there were two content themes in the organization of the network diagrams; i.e., 1) the epistemological bases and 2) methodological aspects of the practices of science. Nevertheless, few science teachers were able to generate a cohesive explanation for the set of informed components of scientific argumentation. It was also found that an informed view of the nature of science did not necessarily indicate informed understanding of scientific argumentation. A further correlation analysis (one-tailed, p < 0.05) between results of the Scientific Epistemological Views survey and components of scientific argumentation showed that the invented and creative and changing and tentative features of science significantly related to Argument and Counterargument, respectively. Close examination of written responses to the Scientific Epistemological Views survey and socio-scientific issues items, as well as interview data from selected in-service secondary science teachers, further supported the above finding. The changing and tentative (CT) feature of science is found to be significantly and positively related to the total score participants received in the Global Warming questionnaire (one-tailed, p < 0.05). Regarding the online learning module about scientific argumentation, pre- and post- surveys of learning outcomes showed good gains from a theoretical perspective after the science teachers completed the online learning module, despite relatively high scores on pre-test items. The learning objectives created by the participants showed that they value students’ use of valid evidence in the process of supporting their claims, though the focus of such process varied. Further, in their reflective evaluation of the learning module, teachers prefer the addition of workshops that could provide them with practical techniques and related resources for facilitating scientific argumentation within their classrooms.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Science Education
Thesis Advisors
Anderson, O. Roger
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 26, 2019