Science & Education

, Volume 25, Issue 3–4, pp 383–405 | Cite as

Using a Professional Development Program for Enhancing Chilean Biology Teachers’ Understanding of Nature of Science (NOS) and Their Perceptions About Using History of Science to Teach NOS

  • José M. Pavez
  • Claudia A. Vergara
  • David Santibañez
  • Hernán CofréEmail author


A number of authors have recognized the importance of understanding the nature of science (NOS) for scientific literacy. Different instructional strategies such as decontextualized, hands-on inquiry, and history of science (HOS) activities have been proposed for teaching NOS. This article seeks to understand the contribution of HOS in enhancing biology teachers’ understanding of NOS, and their perceptions about using HOS to teach NOS. These teachers (N = 8), enrolled in a professional development program in Chile are, according to the national curriculum, expected to teach NOS, but have no specific NOS and HOS training. Teachers’ views of NOS were assessed using the VNOS-D+ questionnaire at the beginning and at the end of two modules about science instruction and NOS. Both the pre- and the post-test were accompanied by interviews, and in the second session we collected information about teachers’ perceptions of which interventions had been more significant in changing their views on NOS. Finally, the teachers also had to prepare a lesson plan for teaching NOS that included HOS. Some of the most important study results were: significant improvements were observed in teachers’ understanding of NOS, although they assigned different levels of importance to HOS in these improvements; and although the teachers improved their understanding of NOS, most had difficulties in planning lessons about NOS and articulating historical episodes that incorporated NOS. The relationship between teachers’ improved understanding of NOS and their instructional NOS skills is also discussed.


Science Teacher Lesson Plan Professional Development Program Biology Teacher Chromosome Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the Chilean National Fund for Scientific and Technologic Development (FONDECYT), under Grant 1131029 to the first author. We are also very grateful to editors of S&E for their constructive comments on the last version of this article. The comments of three anonymous reviewers also improved earlier versions of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • José M. Pavez
    • 1
  • Claudia A. Vergara
    • 2
  • David Santibañez
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hernán Cofré
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto de Biología, Facultad de CienciasPontificia Universidad Católica de ValparaísoCurauma, ValparaisoChile
  2. 2.Facultad de Filosofía y HumanidadesUniversidad Alberto HurtadoSantiagoChile
  3. 3.Mathematics and Science Education DepartmentIllinois Institute of TechnologyChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Facultad de EducaciónUniversidad Católica Silva HenríquezSantiagoChile

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