The interrelationships among students' conceptions of the nature of scientific knowledge, inductive reasoning, and achievement in science

Duffett, John Allen (1992) The interrelationships among students' conceptions of the nature of scientific knowledge, inductive reasoning, and achievement in science. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Interrelationships among conceptions of the nature of scientific knowledge, inductive reasoning, and achievement in science were examined for a sample of 305 suburban high school students. Epistemological beliefs were measured using a questionnaire developed for the study on the basis of the philosophic literature and portions of philosophical models of existing instruments. The final version consisted of 56 items organized into seven subscales representing different dimensions of scientific knowledge. The Essay Test of Inductive Reasoning Strategies, Part A, developed by Norris and Ryan (1987a), was selected as the measure of inductive reasoning. The test requires subjects actively to employ inductive reasoning strategies. Students' achievement in science was measured by the final grade received in the past school year for general science, biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science. -- Students' conceptions included beliefs that scientific knowledge: (a) represents real world phenomena, (b) is fallible, (c) is changeable, (d) is a product of the human imagination, (e) must be subjectable to empirical test, (f) is acquired slowly, and (g) should be questioned when reasonable to do so. Students' inductive reasoning was characterized by a superficial treatment of the reasoning tasks. Students tended not to (a) withhold judgement, (b) seek additional information, (c) suggest alternate conclusions, and (d) monitor their own progress. -- Results of a path analysis indicated that students' conceptions of scientific knowledge exerted strong significant effects on achievement in general science, biology, chemistry, and physics. The effect of scientific knowledge conception on reasoning was significant for the biology group. Significant effects were also found for reasoning on general science and biology achievement. Reasoning was found to play a much smaller role in determining science achievement than did conceptions of scientific knowledge. -- A factor analysis of the questionnaire subscales empirically divided the variable of scientific knowledge conception into four factored variables. The results revealed that the large direct effect for conception of scientific knowledge on reasoning and science achievement was due to beliefs that knowledge: (a) was a representation of real world phenomena, (b) must be testable, (c) is fallible, (d) is changeable, and (e) should be questioned when appropriate to do so.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10441
Item ID: 10441
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 148-159.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1992
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: High school students--Attitudes; Induction (Logic); Prediction of scholastic success; Science--Philosophy; Science--Study and teaching (Secondary)

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