Advertisement

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
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

history of science nature of science scientific literacy undergraduate science education 

References

  1. Abd-El-Khalick, F. & Lederman, N.G. (2000). The influence of history of science courses on students’ views of nature of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37, 1057–1095. Google Scholar
  2. Aikenhead, G.S., Fleming, R.W. & Ryan, A.G. (1987). High school graduates’ beliefs about science-technology-society I: Methods and issues in monitoring student views. Science Education, 71, 145–161. Google Scholar
  3. Aikenhead, G.S. & Ryan, A.G. (1992). The development of a new instrument: “Views on science-technology-society” (VOSTS). Science Education, 76, 477–491. Google Scholar
  4. Aikenhead, G.S. & Ryan, A.G. (1993). Evaluation of views of high school graduates on STS topics. In R.E. Yager (Ed.), What research says to the science teacher, Vol. 7 (The science, technology, society movement) (pp. 23–33). Washington, DC: National Science Teachers Association. Google Scholar
  5. Aikenhead, G.S., Ryan, A.G. & Fleming, R.W. (1989). Views on science-technology-society. Form CDN.mc.5, Department of Curriculum Studies, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0W0, Canada. Google Scholar
  6. Alioto, A.M. (1993). A history of Western sience, 2nd edn. Prentice-Hall. Google Scholar
  7. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1994). Science for all Americans. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  8. Brickhouse, N. (1990). Teachers’ beliefs about the nature of science and their relation to classroom practice. Journal of Teacher Education, 41, 53–62. Google Scholar
  9. Clough, M.P. (1994). A formative evaluation of Biology in the Community (BIOCCOM). Unpublished doctoral disertation, University of Iowa Science Education Centre, Iowa City, IA, USA. Google Scholar
  10. Conant, J.B. (1957). Harvard case histories in experimental science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
  11. Dawkins, K.R. & Vitale, M.R. (1999). Using historical cases to change teachers’ understandings and practices related to the nature of science. Paper presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching Annual Conference, March 1999. Boston, MA, USA. Google Scholar
  12. Driver, R., Leach, J., Millar, R. & Scott, P. (1996). Young people’s images of science. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press. Google Scholar
  13. Duschl, R.A. (1990). Restructuring science education: The importance of theories and their development. New York: Teachers College Press. Google Scholar
  14. Gallagher, J.J. (1991). Prospective and practicing secondary school science teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about the philosophy of science. Science education, 75, 121–134. Google Scholar
  15. Gastel, B. (1983). Presenting science to the public. Philadelphia, PA: ISI (Institute for Scientific Information) Press. Google Scholar
  16. George, M.D., Bragg, S., de los Santos, A.G. Jr., Denton, D.D., Gerber, P., Lindquist, M.M., Rosser, J.M., Sanchez, D.A. & Meyers, C. (1996). Shaping the future: New expectations for undergraduate education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. Google Scholar
  17. Halyard, R.A. (1993). Introductory science courses: The SCST position statement. Journal of College Science Teaching, 23, 29–31. Google Scholar
  18. Irwin, A.R. (2000). Historical case studies: Teaching the nature of science in context. Science Education, 84, 5–26. Google Scholar
  19. Klopfer, L.E. (1969). The teaching of science and the history of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 6, 87–95. Google Scholar
  20. Klopfer, L.E. & Cooley, W.W. (1963). The history of science cases for high schools in the development of student understanding of science and scientists. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 1, 33–47. Google Scholar
  21. Lin, H. & Chen, C. (2002). Promoting preservice chemistry teachers’ understanding about the nature of science through history. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 773–792. Google Scholar
  22. Matthews, M.R. (1994). Science teaching: The role of history and philosophy of science. New York: Routledge Press. Google Scholar
  23. Matthews, M.R. (1998). In defense of modest goals when teaching about the nature of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35, 161–174. Google Scholar
  24. National Research Council (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Google Scholar
  25. National Science Teachers Association (1992–1993). National Science Teachers Association Handbook. Washington, DC: National Science Teachers Association. Google Scholar
  26. Osborne, J., Collins, S., Ratcliffe, M., Millar, R. & Duschl, R. (2003). What “Ideas-about-Science” should be taught in school science? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 692–720. Google Scholar
  27. Pollack, A. (2000). We can engineer nature. But should we? The New York Times (on the Web), February 6, 2000. Google Scholar
  28. Riley, J.P., II. (1979). The influence of hands-on science process training on preservice teachers’ acquisition of process skills and attitude toward science and science teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 16, 373–384. Google Scholar
  29. Rowland, F.S. (1993). President’s lecture: The need for scientific communication with the public. Science, 260, 1571–1576. Google Scholar
  30. Rubba, P.A., Bradford, C.S. & Harkness, W.J. (1996). A new scoring procedure for the views on science-technology-society instrument. International Journal of Science Education, 18, 387–400. Google Scholar
  31. Rubba, P.A. & Harkness, W.J. (1993). Examination of pre-service and in-service secondary science teachers’ beliefs about science-technology-society interactions. Science Education, 77, 407–431. Google Scholar
  32. Russell, T.L. (1981). What history of science, how much, and why? Science Education, 65, 51–64. Google Scholar
  33. Scharmann, L.C. (1990). Enhancing the understanding of the premises of evolutionary theory: The influence of diversified instructional strategy. School Science and Mathematics, 90, 91–100. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Slaughter, J.B. (1993). Science and social consciousness. Journal of College Science Teaching, 22, 204–205. Google Scholar
  35. Soloman, J., Duveen, J., Scot, L. & McCarthy, S. (1992). Teaching about the nature of science through history: Action research in the classroom. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29, 409–421. Google Scholar
  36. Tobey, R. (1971). The American ideology of national science 1919–1930. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. Google Scholar
  37. Yager, R.E. & Wick, J.W. (1966). Three emphases in teaching biology: A statistical comparison of results. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 4, 16–20. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2005

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations