Conceptual Change in "Nature of Science" in Undergraduate Students after Learning through the Explicit Approach

By Sittichai Wichaidit.

Published by The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 18, 2014 $US5.00

This study examines conceptual change in some aspects of nature of science (NOS) in undergraduate students after learning through the explicit approach. NOS is an essential component in the Thai curriculum and is required knowledge for science teachers. Forty-one undergraduate students who study in the teacher education program participated in this classroom action research. Students’ understanding of various aspects of NOS was assessed, including the empirical and tentative nature of scientific knowledge, the nature of science experiment, and the nature of scientific law and theory. To examine the pre-instruction view of NOS, some items of Views of Nature of Science Questionnaire-Form C (VNOS-C), developed by Fouad Abd-El-Khalick were administered to the students. Using cross-items analysis, the results indicated that most of them held naïve ideas of NOS in all aspects. For example, forty-one percent of the students distinguished science from other subjects by simply inferring that science is facts that can be proved or just a reasonable subject. Seventy-eight percent of the students viewed science experiment as the process of proving facts or learning activities in science class and, interestingly, all of them held misconceptions related to the nature of scientific law and theory. For example, they believed that law is different from theory because law is certain while theory is not. The students' conceptions of NOS dramatically changed after learning with the explicit approach, which was reported to be an effective strategy to teach NOS. The instruction included explicit discussion of science history, group study of scientific articles, and use of models and analogies as the tools for reflective discussion on scientific theory and law. To describe how the students had changed their conceptions of NOS, the percentage of students' responses are reported and discussed. In order to examine the effectiveness of the learning activities in the cognitive aspects, bivariate analysis was conducted to compare the students’ understanding with the expected criteria. The pre-service teachers’ satisfaction with all learning activities was also at a high level. The results of this study support the idea of using the explicit approach in teaching NOS.

Keywords: Nature of Science, Conceptual Change, Explicit Approach, Undergraduate Students

The International Journal of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Learning, Volume 22, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.11-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 18, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 935.362KB)).

Dr. Sittichai Wichaidit

Lecturer, Department of Teaching Science and Mathematics, Faculty of Education, Thaksin University, Muang Songkla, Songkla, Thailand

I graduated with an Ed.D. in science education. My research field is science curriculum and instruction. I am interested in designing learning activities and assessment tools which are essential parts of science curriculum. My dissertation adopted conceptual change model as the theoretical background. This theory focuses on science learning, which explains how students acquire scientific knowledge based on their pre-existing ideas. My current interest is how to utilize conceptual change theory to improve pre-service science teacher learning, including the learning nature of science.