The Nature of Science and Nature Education
While the nature of science differs across countries and cultures, it has some common themes. While laws are the ultimate goal of science, theories are still considered tentative. Theories become laws only when additional evidence is gathered. Science is creative, subjective, empirical, and theory-laden. These traits are reflected in various tenets that are considered appropriate for primary and secondary school learning, and are also considered an accurate picture of the scientific enterprise. This article will discuss each of these tenets in detail.
Disciplinary structures of sciences vary from country to country
Disciplinary structures of sciences vary widely. The history of sciences plays a significant role in structuring knowledge. Disciplines develop and evolve from a history and give scientists an idea of themselves, their community, and the purpose of their work. They also serve as a platform for myths, ideologies, and social cohesion. Disciplinary histories of sciences also reveal forerunners and relations among disciplines.
Disciplinary structures of sciences vary greatly across countries, but most high-S&T-level countries have similar national disciplinary structures. While the disciplinary structures of G7 and BRIC countries differ somewhat in terms of emphasis, they are largely similar. G7 countries have a more balanced disciplinary structure, emphasizing the life sciences while BRIC countries' focus is on mathematics, physics, and engineering.
Sociology is a branch of the social sciences that deals with the study of human society and individuals' relationship to society. Chief social science disciplines include anthropology, history, economics, political science, and sociology. Behavioral sciences focus on human and animal behavior. A key goal of these disciplines is to understand behavior and to change it. The distinction between social and behavioral sciences is blurred in public health research, which often overlaps with other disciplines.
Geographical disciplinarity has evolved over time. Some countries have a national curriculum that focuses on geography, while others emphasize a broader scope. In the United States, for instance, geology is taught in secondary schools. Higher education in geography is also more likely to have more female professors. The diversity of scientific disciplines has contributed to a high quality of education. However, the differences between science are largely rhetorical.
Subjectivity is an unavoidable aspect of scientific knowledge
A philosophical insight has revealed that the nature of scientific knowledge is inherently subject. Scientists are social creatures, and their decisions are influenced by their own background knowledge, beliefs, and cultural context. Thus, they are not objective in reaching conclusions or evaluating new evidence. These human factors, along with their background knowledge, contribute to the partial subjectivity of scientific knowledge. It is also an unavoidable aspect of scientific practice, as it impedes the development of a truly objective view of the world.
In normal science, testing, verification, and falsification are all necessary activities. Subjectivity is not a problem if the paradigm is accepted as a given. This would be like playing chess, where the board is physically placed before you and the problem is stated before you. Likewise, scientists cannot be objective if they are discussing something outside their paradigm. Subjectivity makes science less useful, rather than more effective.
There are several different definitions of objectivity. One is the intersubjective agreement that occurs between two or more individuals; another is objectivity, which refers to the quality of scientific knowledge that is free of bias. However, these definitions are not comprehensive enough to explain all the possible forms of subjectivity, so we must come up with a common understanding of how science works. In fact, we can use the history of science to help us decide what we mean by objectivity.
NOS should be taught as a uniting theme
In order to understand the relationship between NOS and scientific literacy, we must first understand how scientists make claims. We should understand that scientists do not know everything; they just know that they've gone through various levels of possibility and high probability in their investigations. The notion that scientists do not know everything is also one of the foundational premises of NOS. Thus, it is essential to teach NOS as a uniting theme in science and nature education.
The study of NOS in science and nature education highlights that it is best understood when students are explicitly taught about its characteristics. However, teachers cannot address all aspects of NOS in a single lesson. Moreover, not all aspects of NOS are developmentally appropriate for students in each grade level. For example, a K-5 student should not be taught about scientific theories and laws while a high school student should learn about the cultural roots of science. Thus, NOS should be taught as a uniting theme in K-12 science education.
The study of NOS includes important aspects of modern science. It is based on active communication within science and involves the study of social epistemology. Understanding social epistemology helps us understand how scientific knowledge extends to nonscientists. Lastly, it helps us develop fuller science media literacy. If we teach NOS as a uniting theme in science and nature education, we will foster the development of a deeper understanding of how our culture processes and uses knowledge.
SoS topics can be discussed in science education as self-standing topics
A SoS topic can be defined as a topic that is not the result of a formal teaching method, but rather is the outcome of a collaborative process between teacher and student. SoS topics can be categorized as either a specific part of the curriculum or as a transversal theme that permeates all of the curriculum subjects. A study involving five groups of participants - students aged fourteen to fifteen, university teacher trainers, future professors, and health professionals - in middle school explored this phenomenon. The study involved 10 activities, including reflections and a self-reflexive cycle. The participants were then required to complete an evaluation of their experiences, and transcripts of the debates were analyzed for content.
Using an appropriate technology-related project can spark a student's interest in physics and help them see the connection between what they are learning and the benefits of applying their learning. Similarly, a SoS project that relates to a particular social issue can spark a non-physics major's interest in physics. For example, a project where children mix chemicals in test tubes can help them better understand the scientific principles behind the development of a product or technology.
SoS topics can be discussed in science education by incorporating a science philosophy component. It is important to stress the historical and philosophical value of science when teaching these topics in secondary schools. Moreover, students are better prepared for college science courses if they have had a broader knowledge of SoS topics. The historical, philosophical, and physical aspects of science are all vital parts of the curriculum.
NOS should be explicitly addressed within the context of science and engineering practices
Explicitly addressing NOS is essential to ensure that students understand the processes that result in scientific knowledge. This involves facilitating reflective discussions among students. Since all aspects of NOS cannot be covered in a single lesson, explicit NOS instruction should be implemented at all grade levels and as an integrating theme of the K-12 science curriculum. However, the concept is broader and more complex than previously thought.
Although NSTA uses the term "nature of science" to refer to the characteristics of scientific knowledge, this terminology is confusing because it suggests the same thing. NOS is an umbrella term for different types of knowledge, including scientific knowledge and scientific inquiry. The latest position statement by the NSTA clarifies the distinction between knowledge development and characteristics. However, no single definition is a substitute for the other.
Moreover, students' epistemologies are influenced by teachers' epistemic supports. They may provide in-the-moment support to students or they may provide broad and contextual epistemic support to students in a discipline. In addition, teachers need to continue to provide ongoing support to students who engage in such practices. In fact, the development of NOS within a classroom requires ongoing support from teachers.
Examples of durability and change of knowledge in contemporary science
The concept of conceptual durability refers to students' ability to hold onto newly acquired knowledge for an extended period of time. Research studies reveal that students hold onto their ideas for much longer than previously thought. Examples of durability and change of knowledge in contemporary science and nature education include the following:
Frames of nature influence how people view nature. In Colombia, for example, the frame that shaped the lives of Indigenous people and the natural environment led to discursive resistance. In Turkey, participatory nature-based interventions framed nature as an untouched, unrecognised domain of knowledge, which alienated local people and marginalized them. This is a result of ambivalence between various processes of knowledge and the politics of the natural world.
Scientists reject the idea of absolute truth, accepting uncertainty as part of the process. Nevertheless, most scientific knowledge survives and evolves. Though ideas change constantly, powerful ones persist and are generally accepted. Newtonian mechanics, for example, are used by NASA to calculate satellite trajectories. Even Einstein, who has been accused of a lack of imagination and a lack of curiosity, did not abandon Newton's laws of motion.