Article

International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 707-730

First online:

CONCEPTIONS OF THE NATURE OF SCIENCE—ARE THEY GENERAL OR CONTEXT SPECIFIC?

  • Detlef UrhahneAffiliated withPsychology of Excellence in Business and Education, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich Email author 
  • , Kerstin KremerAffiliated withInstitute of Biology Education, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen
  • , Juergen MayerAffiliated withInstitute of Biology—Biology Education, University of Kassel

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ABSTRACT

The study investigates the relationship between general and context-specific conceptions of the nature of science (NOS). The categorization scheme by Osborne et al. (J Res Sci Teach 40:692–720, 2003) served as the theoretical framework of the study. In the category nature of scientific knowledge, the certainty, development, simplicity, justification, and source of scientific knowledge were distinguished. In the category methods of science, the purpose of science and the creativity of scientists were mentioned. The study was conducted with 221 secondary school students, who filled in a 40-item questionnaire on general NOS conceptions. Furthermore, students were provided with different contexts by a short description of 10 scientific theories. After the theory introduction, students indicated context-specific conceptions as well as the importance and familiarity of each theory. Study results show that higher familiarity with scientific theories is related to a more informed view about the general nature of science. Correlational analyses illustrate that context-specific and general conceptions about NOS are not independent from each other but have a mutual core. Context-specific conceptions are not so different from their general counterparts that these aspects cannot be combined in a NOS questionnaire.

KEY WORDS

epistemological beliefs general science nature of science (NOS) secondary