Students’ Views on the Nature of Science in an Interdisciplinary First-Year Science Program: Content Analysis of a Weekly Reflection Activity




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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Author Biographies

Nolan N. Bett, Science One Program, University of British Columbia

Nolan N. Bett is a lecturer in the department of forest and conservation sciences at the University of British Columbia (CAN).

Costanza Piccolo, Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia

Costanza Piccolo is an associate professor of teaching in the department of mathematics at the University of British Columbia (CAN).

Nathan D. Roberson, Centre for Educational Excellence, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Nathan D. Roberson is the chief research officer at Beyond Education, an organization working to promote the development of twenty-first century competencies in our education systems.

A. James Charbonneau, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

A. James Charbonneau is an associate professor of teaching in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of British Columbia (CAN). 

Christopher J. Addison, The University of British Columbia

Christopher J. Addison is an associate professor of teaching in the department of chemistry at the University of British Columbia (CAN).


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A photo of Little Island, New York City. White oncrete structures are built on the water with trees and foilage on top of the structures creating a mini park. A blue sky is in the background.




How to Cite

Bett, Nolan N., Costanza Piccolo, Nathan D. Roberson, A. James Charbonneau, and Christopher J. Addison. 2023. “Students’ Views on the Nature of Science in an Interdisciplinary First-Year Science Program: Content Analysis of a Weekly Reflection Activity”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 11 (March).