Students’ Views on the Nature of Science in an Interdisciplinary First-Year Science Program: Content Analysis of a Weekly Reflection Activity
Keywords:reflections, nature of science, interdisciplinary teaching, first-year science, program evaluation
A primary aim of science education is to teach students how to interpret and engage with scientific information. To do so effectively requires an adequate understanding of the nature of science (NOS)—in other words, what science is and how it works. There is a long history of evidence to suggest that many undergraduate students struggle to properly understand NOS. While the specific factors contributing to misinformed views on NOS may be difficult to tease apart, the way in which students learn about science at the undergraduate level is a significant contributor. We implemented a reflection activity in a unique first-year program at a large Canadian university in order to promote student learning of NOS. Through the students’ reflections, we identified how certain pedagogical approaches, many of which deviate from traditional teaching methods used throughout undergraduate science education, can positively impact student comprehension of NOS. Our experiences support the use of reflective practices in promoting critical thinking and the development of more nuanced student views of NOS.
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