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Nature of Science

Nature of Science and Science Content Learning


Besides viewing knowledge about the nature of science (NOS) as important for its own value with respect to scientific literacy, an adequate understanding of NOS is expected to improve science content learning by fostering the ability to interrelate scientific contents and, thus, coherently acquire scientific content knowledge (Driver et al., 1996). However, there is a lack of systematic investigations, which clarify the relations between NOS instruction and learning achievement in science (Lederman, 2007; Peters, 2012). This paper presents the theoretical framework, design and methods of a respective study to empirically investigate whether NOS instruction is able to foster students’ acquisition of a proper understanding of the physics concept of energy. Three intervention groups are to receive different types of instruction. One group is to receive decontextualized NOS instruction, followed by a unit on energy, while a second group only receives instruction on energy, without explicitly addressing NOS aspects. A third group is to receive integrated NOS instruction, where aspects of both NOS and energy are meaningfully interwoven in order to support each other. Pre-and post-tests assessing NOS and energy understanding, as well as student interviews are used to investigate if and how students use their NOS understanding to approach science content.

Hanno Michel, Irene Neumann