Evidence and Warrants for Belief in a College Astronomy Course
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Science educators have argued that it is insufficient to be able to recite thetheories of science and not know how knowledge claims in science are justified, what counts as evidence, or how theory and evidence interact. We wonder, however, how much students' understandings of the nature of science vary with content. This paper draws on data collected in a university astronomy course. Data include three interviews and written work from twenty students, as well as written work from the 340 students in the class. This study provides us with evidence on how students' talk and writing about the nature of science differs depending on the particular scientific topic which is under discussion. The relationship between theory and evidence, warrants for belief, and nature of observation are described in various ways in the different disciplines discussed in the course.
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