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Effects of Historical Story Telling on Student Understanding of Nature of Science

Abstract

Concepts related to the nature of science (NOS) have been considered an important part of scientific literacy as reflected in its inclusion in curriculum documents. A significant amount of science education research has focused on improving learners’ understanding of NOS. One approach that has often been advocated is an explicit and reflective approach. Some researchers have used the history of science to provide learners with explicit and reflective experiences with NOS concepts. Previous research on using the history of science (HOS) in science instruction has approached HOS in many different ways and consequently has led to inconsistent findings regarding its utility for improving learning. One promising method for overcoming this inconsistency and teaching NOS with more traditional science content is using stories based in the history of science. A mixed method approach was used to determine whether and how the use of science stories influences undergraduates’ understanding of NOS. Particular attention was paid to the explanations that students used for their understandings. Intervention and control groups completed the Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry (SUSSI) instrument. The intervention group was taught using two historical narratives while the control group was taught using minimal history. A subset of both groups was also interviewed regarding their SUSSI responses and their experiences in the course. Results indicated that the introduction of science stories helped participants gain a better understanding of the role of imagination and creativity in science. Participants mentioned science stories in their explanations for why they changed towards more informed views on SUSSI items related to imagination and creativity. The current study adds to a growing body of literature regarding the use of stories in the science classroom.

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Williams, C.T., Rudge, D.W. Effects of Historical Story Telling on Student Understanding of Nature of Science. Sci & Educ 28, 1105–1133 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-019-00073-x

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