Examining the Sources for our Understandings about Science: Enduring conflations and critical issues in research on nature of science in science education

Fouad Abd-El-Khalick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This position paper addresses some enduring, as well as emerging issues, associated with the crucial question of benchmarking understandings about nature of science (NOS) for precollege science education. The question of benchmarking NOS understandings is revisited in light of the often cited, continuing debates among historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science, which are invoked to undermine the current widely accepted, domain-general, consensus-based, aspects approach to NOS. The paper explicates the underlying assumptions of, and argues for, this consensus approach. However, the paper calls for extending the current framework and advances a developmental perspective that allows for incorporating controversial NOS issues into this framework. The paper also examines recent calls to altogether abandon the domain-general approach to NOS research and development in science education in favor of a domain-specific approach. The paper argues that, contrary to what its advocates assume, a domain-specific approach is susceptible to the same criticisms often invoked against a domain-general approach. Instead, the paper argues for complementarity and reciprocity between the two approaches, and explicates how the latter can be achieved. Finally, the paper critiques current calls to privilege accounts of context-specific, day-to-day scientific practice and scientists' accounts of their enterprise as sources for deriving understandings about NOS in lieu of scholarship in history, philosophy, and sociology of science (HPSS). The paper argues that, while important, these can only supplement rather than replace HPSS scholarship as a major source for deriving understandings about NOS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-374
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

Keywords

  • Developmental framework
  • Nature of science
  • Science curriculum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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