Understanding the Nature of Scientific Enterprise (NOSE) through a Discourse with Its History: The Influence of an Undergraduate ‘History of Science’ Course

  • Pradeep M. DassEmail author
Open Access


An appropriate understanding of the nature of the scientific enterprise (NOSE) is a key element of scientific literacy and can arguably be influenced through an exploration of the history of science. An elective, undergraduate History of Science course was organized in the form of small-group discussion-based inquiries into the history of science from ancient to modern times. Group discussions focused on STATEMENTS OF CRITICAL SIGNIFICANCE (SOCS) prepared by individual students on assigned readings prior to each class meeting. Small-group discussions were followed by a synthesis, facilitated by the instructor, of points raised in SOCS and other ideas central to the reading. The overarching goal of these activities was to help students see the multifaceted nature of the scientific enterprise in the context of social, political, cultural, and religious milieu of the time period and the geographic setting within which specific scientific activities and developments took place. The impact of this course on student understanding of the NOSE was assessed through the use of VIEWS ON SCIENCE-TECHNOLOGY-SOCIETY (VOSTS) instrument administered as pre- and post-test. Qualitative data regarding student understanding of the NOSE were furnished by the final exam on the NOSE written in the form of SOCS at the end of semester. Results based on four semesters of the course offering indicate modest gains in student understanding of specific aspects of the NOSE. They are discussed, along with the usefulness of small-group, discussion-based inquiries into the history of science as a way of enhancing scientific literacy during undergraduate science education.


history of science nature of science scientific literacy undergraduate science education 


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Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyAppalachian State UniversityBooneU.S.A.

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