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Towards a Philosophically and a Pedagogically Reasonable Nature of Science Curriculum

  • Author / Creator
    Yacoubian, Hagop A.
  • This study, primarily theoretical in nature, explores a philosophically and pedagogically reasonable way of addressing nature of science (NOS) in school science. NOS encompasses what science is and how scientific knowledge develops. I critically evaluate consensus frameworks of NOS in school science, which converge contentious philosophical viewpoints into general NOS-related ideas. I argue that they (1) lack clarity in terms of how NOS-related ideas could be applied for various ends, (2) portray a distorted image of the substantive content of NOS and the process of its development, and (3) lack a developmental trajectory for how to address NOS at different grade levels. As a remedy to these problems, I envision a NOS curriculum that (1) explicates and targets both NOS as an educational end and NOS as a means for socioscientific decision making, (2) has critical thinking as its foundational pillar, and (3) provides a developmental pathway for NOS learning using critical thinking as a progression unit. Next, I illustrate a framework for addressing NOS in school science referred to as the critical thinking - nature of science (CT-NOS) framework. This framework brings together the first two of the three elements envisioned in the NOS curriculum. I address the third element by situating the CT-NOS framework in a developmental context, borrowing from the literature on learning progressions in science and using critical thinking as a progression unit. Finally, I present an empirical study of experienced secondary science teachers’ views of a NOS lesson prepared using the CT-NOS framework. The teachers attended a professional development workshop at which the lesson, and the characteristics of the CT-NOS framework, were presented. The analysis of the qualitative data revealed that most teachers found the lesson to be somewhat feasible for a secondary science classroom, useful or somewhat useful to their students, and interesting. The teachers focused on 14 features of the lesson in their judgments and recommendations. The study revealed a number of teacher challenges generally related to critical thinking and its teaching as well as to the distinction between critical thinking about NOS and critical thinking with NOS.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2012-09
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3P727
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Secondary Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Norris, Stephen (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Shanahan, Marie-Claire (Secondary Education)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Pegg, Jerine (Elementary Education)
    • Jenkins, Frank (Secondary Education)
    • Nocente, Norma (Secondary Education)