General Science and Teaching

Claims vs. Hypothesis vs. Predictions

Good Evening,

I wanted to throw out a question and elicit some thoughts and explanations. 

What is the difference between a hypothesis and a claim? How does a hypothesis differ from a prediction?

I have some healthy conversations going on with my colleagues and we would love to hear more thoughts around this. We are trying to develop common language. 

Thanks in advance!

LaToya Pugh
LaToya Pugh
6570 Activity Points

I'm not sure where the conversation has evolved, but here is my two cents.... A claim is a telling of an event hopefully convincing the hearer of that event. A hypothesis claims that an event happened because of (something). Probably sounds the same.....

Alec Richardson
Alec Richardson
615 Activity Points

Thinking further......a claim isn't made for experimentation (although we may do so anyway). A hypothesis is made for experimentation.

Alec Richardson
Alec Richardson
615 Activity Points

A hypothesis is something I determine before an experiment based on prior knowledge and research of what I expect the outcome to be. I would say a prediction is close but I don't have to have as much support for my hypothesis, this could be more of an educated guess. A Claim is based on the results of the experiment. It can answer the hypothesis but it is based solely on the data collected. Or simpler; Claims must have evidence, a hypothesis should have research and a prediction is what I think will happen. Just my thoughts.

Brian Hayes
Brian Hayes
555 Activity Points

So I agree with this explanation, however, I struggle with the word research when we ask students to make a hypothesis. Do they necessarily have to have conducted research in order to make the hypothesis? Now I do believe that they don't make blanket hypothesis. They make hypothesis based off some knowledge whether it is an experience or prior knowledge. But to say they have conducted research in order to make the claim is somewhat unclear to me. I may be wrong. All the feedback is greatly appreciated!

LaToya Pugh
LaToya Pugh
6570 Activity Points

I agree with Brian. A hypothesis is before and experiment a claim is made after the experiment during the conclusion.

Kathy Payne
Kathy Payne
1110 Activity Points

Thank you Brian. Well put.

Alec Richardson
Alec Richardson
615 Activity Points

Thank you all for taking the time to post to the thread. I enjoy reading all the feedback given. I too believe that a claim is supported by evidence from a body of research. In outlining the steps to the scientific method (a method, not the method) we know that making a hypothesis is the first step (well this is what is taught in classrooms); however, we know that an hypothesis is an explanation, may not be the best explanation, but it is an explanation to a question based off what we think we know or understand about a concept. Some say research is needed to make a hypothesis. I don't dispute that research can definitely help to disprove your hypothesis but is it needed to make a hypothesis? What are we considering as research when making a hypothesis? Is the research we refer to in making a claim the same research we are using the make a hypothesis? If so, then is it a hypothesis or is is a claim?

LaToya Pugh
LaToya Pugh
6570 Activity Points

LaToya, In elementary grades we use "prediction" an not hypothesis. We do ask for a reason for the prediction. Then students can go back and compare their findings with their original reflections. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathleen Renfrew
34035 Activity Points

These are excellent questions. In practice, scientists make observations that often cannot be explained by current knowledge or perhaps that do not fit the current model. A hypothesis may be designed that is testable and can be falsified. The hypothesis should guide the research into the phenomena.  As data is collected, the data may support or disprove the hypothesis. If the hypothesis is disproven by data, then the hypothesis should be revised. If the hypothesis is supported by the data, then a model can be developed that explains the phenomena. 

In my middle school science classroom, I teach Claim-Evidence-Reason not hypothesis building. To me this seems like a statistical approach, however, I am not sure as to the etiology. In this approach, the students are presented with two claims. Claim 1 is positively written and may explain the phenomena. Claim 2 is written so that it is unlikely that both it and Claim 1 are true. Either Claim 1 is true, or Claim 2 is true-- not both. I tell my students that they should take a position for one claim and practice scientific argumentation to test the claim. The students are presented with evidence that is on a continuum from strong evidence to weak evidence and through reasoning they argue for one of the two claims.

Jeremy Goforth
Jeremy Goforth
1396 Activity Points

I believe that the difference between a claim and hypothesis is rather great. A claim is the result stated based off of many conducted experiments. When a hypothesis is still in the experimental phase, in a hypothesis a person is making predictions before conducting an experiment.

Erika Segarra
Erika Segarra
100 Activity Points

Thank you for posting this question. I'm dealing with a very simular situation. In the past I have students make a hypothesis before doing a lab, usually in a If __ then __ statement. Now I'm trying to incorporate Claim, Reasoning, Explaination into my classes and am trying to figure out if a Claim takes the place of a hypothesis or is something totally different. My understanding is that a claim is based on evidence from an experiment or research, so it is not a hypothesis which is usually done before the experimenting begins. I'm trying to figure out how I "marry" the two in lab reports.

Kim Durham
Kim Durham
40 Activity Points

I am in the process of implementing this process. What did you conclude about hypothesis vs. writing a claim? How did you present the change? Are you finding this way of lab inquiry more beneficial?

Laura Capolino
Laura Capolino
10 Activity Points

I see a claim as part of an argument. It is supported with evidence (facts). While facts can inform a hypothesis, there is a distinct difference in the purpose. A previous post emphasized that a hypothesis is designed for testing. A claim is not. 

Emily Faulconer
Faulconer
4660 Activity Points

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