How Do Learner-Directed Scientific Investigations Influence Students’ Questioning and Their Nature of Science Conceptions?
Actionresearch was conducted in two sections of a scientific inquiry class in aMidwestern U.S. university to identify the types of questions that students askfor their investigations, identify emerging patterns regarding students’questioning, and determine students’ ability to transfer their nature ofscience (NOS) understanding to a new scientific phenomenon. Participantsincluded 28 non-science major freshmen and sophomores. Data sources included theEarthworm Activity Field Guide, the post-reflection sheet, The Views of Natureof Science Version B Questionnaire (VNOS-B), and audio recordings of smallgroup discussions when students were creating and selecting questions for thefirst and the second investigations when they were in the field. Findingsshowed that students improved their ability to ask more investigable and morespecific questions after conducting an investigation. Also, students asked fewerdescriptive and more cause-and-effect or pattern-seeking questions after thefirst investigation. The results showed that students were able to apply theirunderstandings of NOS aspects to a new concept. However, some aspects wereaddressed more than the others. Results suggest that giving studentsopportunities to ask their own questions following their own interests improvestheir ability to generate good investigable questions. The results also suggestthat reflecting on NOS aspects during content-related inquiry activitiesenhances students’ NOS understandings.
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