Science & Education

, Volume 27, Issue 1–2, pp 63–79 | Cite as

Connecting Inquiry and Values in Science Education

An Approach Based on John Dewey’s Philosophy
  • Eun Ah Lee
  • Matthew J. BrownEmail author


Conducting scientific inquiry is expected to help students make informed decisions; however, how exactly it can help is rarely explained in science education standards. According to classroom studies, inquiry that students conduct in science classes seems to have little effect on their decision-making. Predetermined values play a large role in students’ decision-making, but students do not explore these values or evaluate whether they are appropriate to the particular issue they are deciding, and they often ignore relevant scientific information. We explore how to connect inquiry and values, and how this connection can contribute to informed decision-making based on John Dewey’s philosophy. Dewey argues that scientific inquiry should include value judgments and that conducting inquiry can improve the ability to make good value judgments. Value judgment is essential to informed, rational decision-making, and Dewey’s ideas can explain how conducting inquiry can contribute to make an informed decision through value judgment. According to Dewey, each value judgment during inquiry is a practical judgment guiding action, and students can improve their value judgments by evaluating their actions during scientific inquiry. Thus, we suggest that students need an opportunity to explore values through scientific inquiry and that practicing value judgment will help informed decision-makings.



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. 1338735. Our thanks to Magda Grohman, Nick Gans, Marco Tacca, the members of the Values in Science Research Lab, and the audience at the Philosophy of Science Association.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and TechnologyThe University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

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