Methods and Strategies: Understanding the True Meaning of Nature of Scienceby: David T. Crowther, Norman G. Lederman, and Judith S. Lederman

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Along with the responsibility of teaching science content and inquiry comes the responsibility of nurturing an understanding of the nature of science. This article offers applicable suggestions to help in highlighting the nature of science.

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Reviews (8)
  • on Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:29 AM

This article focuses on highlighting and nurturing an understanding of the nature of science and comes up with a list of elements important to achieve that, incorporating several statements from the National Science Teachers Association position statement (NSTA 2000). Firstly, doing science is such a complex activity that there is no single universal step-by-step method. Different disciplines carry out investigations in different ways. To be more specific, the research of astronomers is descriptive without the ability to control the behaviors of celestial bodies, while for chemists, they are more likely to control levels of various compounds in their laboratories, meantime assessing the effects of changing the amount of one of the compounds in a system. Moreover, making full use of creativity and continuously exploring new evidence and interpretation play an important role during the whole process of gaining an understanding of the natural world . According to this article, there are various suggestions explicitly teaching nature of science which can applied to my own class while teaching elementary students in the future. Firstly, the science topics of my lessons should change as scientific information and theory update over time. However, I also need to make sure that students realize that some laws in science which are the prerequisites for more scientific rationales and knowledge have stood the test of time, such as Kepler’s Third Law, Thermodynamic Laws that all students are required to master. Secondly, it is totally wrong to follow the same set and sequence of steps when conducting and teaching different scientific investigation in diverse fields. Whether it is observation, or hands-on practices, or some other methods, taking the real situation and limitation as well as children’s interest into consideration will generate an optimal teaching and learning effect in class. Thirdly, teaching elementary students the differences between observations and inferences is of top priority, which provides a basis for them to gain an insight into human creativity and human subjectivity. Both of these two terms are an indispensable part in the development of scientific knowledge. Based on this, some simple and operable activities can be utilized to achieve this like letting children point out the height and clothing color or discuss the differences between two items and so forth. In conclusion, this article was written to teach teachers how to help students better understand nature of science that benefits me a lot.

Xuan Guan  (Gainesville, GA)
Xuan Guan (Gainesville, GA)

  • on Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:16 AM

This article mainly tells about what is nature of science and provide some explicit suggestions on how to teach nature of science. In the beginning, the authors mention some components which are important to understand the nature of science. Also, the authors state that nature of science in science instruction should be formal and teachers should provide explicit instructions on nature of science (D.T. Crowther, N. G. Lederman, and J. S. Lederman, 2005). Further on, based on this opinion, the authors go on with three parts which need to teach: the changed science theories, science methods and human factor, and introduce some fabulous ways to teach: First, the article describes that scientific knowledge can change because of new evidence and information. It suggests that teacher can use the example of dinosaurs to introduce this knowledge for students. In addition, the article mentions that the teacher also needs to tell students that there are some scientific laws can stand the test of time, such as Newton’s three laws of motion. Second, the authors state that there are many methods in science rather than only one “science method”, and use the example of astronomers, environmental scientists, and chemists to illustrate that “different disciplines conduct investigations in different ways”. (Crowther, Lederman, and Lederman, 2005, p.51). Third, the article illustrates that human creativity and subjectivity are elements in science and provides two funny activities which help students to understand it. From this article, I know that instruction of nature of science shouldn’t be embedded in regular science instruction. Therefore, I will design specific lessons to help students understand nature of science, such as using dinosaurs’ lineage to introduce how scientific knowledge changed and why. I also will use funny activities from this article in my future class. For instance, I will invite an adult to come to my class and ask my students to observe and use one word to describe this person. Then, divide their answers into two lists: “Observations” and “Inferences.” Discuss the differences between the items in these two lists and why they are different. For the young students, the participation of specific activity and discussion will help them understand nature of science better.

Tianyi Ma
Tianyi Ma

  • on Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:10 PM

This was a great article. It reinforces the importance of teaching more than just the scientific method and that science evolves.

Jennifer Basalari
Jennifer Basalari

  • on Thu Jan 21, 2016 4:55 PM

"When these parts of the whole are considered individually, a clearer picture can be gained of what nature of science should promote or not promote in science teaching. However, teaching about nature of science sometimes gets lost as it is embedded in regular science instruction." This statement from this article perfectly explains to me what happens in science. Science is how we try to understand how and why things happen. As stated in the article human creativity plays a major part of science. I do believe we as educators must understand how to move students through science without giving to my knowledge while correcting prior knowledge.

Gerard Latimore
Gerard Latimore

  • on Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:30 PM

This article does a great job of summarizing the nature of science. I especially like how the authors handle the discussion on the scientific method. While most of the article discusses the nature of science in reference to how science is really "done," there are also a few activities for teachers to use in class to help students better engage in an understanding of the nature of science. This article is appropriate for any grade level, and the activities can be used, with modifications, in any grade level also.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:13 PM

These authors provide a list of the four key components of the nature of science that students need to understand in their opinions and relate those to the position statement of NSTA. The authors believe that when taken separately, these components help students understand the bigger picture. With this in mind, the authors’ present simple activities that help children achieve these goals. An example that is mentioned in the article is describes how you should reinforce that there are many ways for the scientific method and not just one. The activities are not for students but for teachers to adjust what they are teaching.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:49 PM

One important point in this article is that there are many methods to doing science---not just "the" scientific method. I appreciate, too, the authors focus on creativity and personal, human endeavors in science.

Christina B
Christina B

  • on Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:05 AM

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