Influence of a reflective explicit activity-based approach on elementary teachers' conceptions of nature of science

Valarie L. Akerson, Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, Norman G. Lederman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study assessed the influence of a reflective, explicit, activity-based approach to nature of science (NOS) instruction undertaken in the context of an elementary science methods course on preservice teachers' views of some aspects of NOS. These aspects included the empirical, tentative, subjective (theory-laden), imaginative and creative, and social and cultural NOS. Two additional aspects were the distinction between observation and inference, and the functions of and relationship between scientific theories and laws. Participants were 25 undergraduate and 25 graduate preservice elementary teachers enrolled in two sections of the investigated course. An open-ended NOS questionnaire coupled with individual interviews was used to assess participants' NOS views before and at the conclusion of the course. The majority of participants held naive views of the target NOS aspects at the beginning of the study. During the first week of class, participants were engaged in specially designed activities that were coupled with explicit NOS instruction. Throughout the remainder of the course, participants were provided with structured opportunities to reflect on their views of the target NOS aspects. Postinstruction assessments indicated that participants made substantial gains in their views of some of the target NOS aspects. Less substantial gains were evident in the case of the subjective, and social and cultural NOS. The results of the present study support the effectiveness of explicit, reflective NOS instruction. Such instruction, nonetheless, might be rendered more effective when integrated within a conceptual change approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-317
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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