Use of the History of Science in a Nonscience Majors Course: Does It Affect Students' Understanding of the Nature of Science?
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Ronald G. Good
In response to a call for more research into using the history of science to teach the nature of science, a call for curriculum materials for inclusion of the nature of science in undergraduate nonscience majors courses, and in keeping with the nature of science described in the literature, interactive nature-of-science historical vignettes were utilized in a quantitative and qualitative investigation. Interactive nature-of-science historical vignettes employ the interrupted story form and binary opposites involving conflict to generate student participation and spark discussion about the nature of science. They were utilized as an experimental technique in a university level, introductory nonscience majors course to determine if inclusion of the history of science in such a course would induce conceptual change about the nature of science without sacrificing student understanding of the physical science content included in the course. An instrument, the Nature of Science Questionnaire (NOSQ), was developed based on a model of the nature of science drawn from science education research literature and was utilized to quantitatively determine if the experimental technique was useful. Qualitative research, in the form of content analysis of journals and transcripts of interviews, was performed to determine what conceptions and/or misconceptions students held before and after treatment. Qualitative research also investigated differences between elementary education majors and other nonscience majors, and between traditional and nontraditional students in their understanding of the concepts associated with the nature of science both before and after treatment. Students who participated in the interactive nature-of-science vignettes demonstrated statistically significant gains in an understanding of the nature of science. These students showed no losses in understanding of physical science content topics. Students who did not participate in the interactive historical vignettes showed no statistically significant gains in their understanding of the nature of science. Content analysis of journals and interview transcripts provide evidence that qualitative research should accompany questionnaires when investigating student understanding of the nature of science.
Roach, Linda Easley, "Use of the History of Science in a Nonscience Majors Course: Does It Affect Students' Understanding of the Nature of Science?" (1993). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 5667.