The Structure of Scientific Arguments by Secondary Science Teachers: Comparison of experimental and historical science topics

Ron Gray, Nam Hwa Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Just as scientific knowledge is constructed using distinct modes of inquiry (e.g. experimental or historical), arguments constructed during science instruction may vary depending on the mode of inquiry underlying the topic. The purpose of this study was to examine whether and how secondary science teachers construct scientific arguments during instruction differently for topics that rely on experimental or historical modes of inquiry. Four experienced high-school science teachers were observed daily during instructional units for both experimental and historical science topics. The main data sources include classroom observations and teacher interviews. The arguments were analyzed using Toulmin's argumentation pattern revealing specific patterns of arguments in teaching topics relying on these 2 modes of scientific inquiry. The teachers presented arguments to their students that were rather simple in structure but relatively authentic to the 2 different modes. The teachers used far more evidence in teaching topics based on historical inquiry than topics based on experimental inquiry. However, the differences were implicit in their teaching. Furthermore, their arguments did not portray the dynamic nature of science. Very few rebuttals or qualifiers were provided as the teachers were presenting their claims as if the data led straightforward to the claim. Implications for classroom practice and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-65
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Argumentation
  • Nature of science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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