What’s in a Word? How Word Choice Can Develop (Mis)conceptions About the Nature of Scienceby: Renee Schwartz

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Despite over 10 years of reform efforts, research still shows that students typically have inadequate conceptions of what science is and what scientists do (McComas 2004; Lederman 2007). Many science students, as well as some teachers, use a single “scientific method” that, “proves a hypothesis” by systematic data collection. This view does not acknowledge creativity, inference, or tentativeness as characteristics of science. It not only misrepresents the nature of science, but likely makes science inaccessible to many students. The techniques included here raise awareness of common terminology and the image of the nature of science in general.

Grades
  • Middle
Publication Date
10/1/2007

Community ActivitySaved in 374 Libraries

Reviews (6)
  • on Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:09 PM

Words can carry a meaning but using the right words can better explain what it is you are saying. This author explains how some words she considers “dead” words can be replaced by alternative words which better explain what it is you are trying to say. This is neatly presented in Figure 1. She then explains how words shape thoughts and how a simple rephrasing of words can help students better understand and explain the nature of science endeavors. The author provides examples of the difference between two words such as data vs. evidence. This is an interesting read and should be required for all elementary educators.

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

  • on Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:09 PM

Words can carry a meaning but using the right words can better explain what it is you are saying. This author explains how some words she considers “dead” words can be replaced by alternative words which better explain what it is you are trying to say. This is neatly presented in Figure 1. She then explains how words shape thoughts and how a simple rephrasing of words can help students better understand and explain the nature of science endeavors. The author provides examples of the difference between two words such as data vs. evidence. This is an interesting read and should be required for all elementary educators.

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

  • on Sun May 01, 2011 5:19 PM

I realized, after reading this article, there were several things that I (as a veteran teacher) was doing in my classroom that was adding to confusion and misconceptions in my students. Actually, I had some of the misconceptions myself. I am recommending this article to every teacher that that teaches science-all grade levels. Read it more than once! I especially liked the examples of the common answers that students usually give in their conclusions and the suggested examples of alternate or amended answers. There are also examples of teacher questions/probes to encourage the students search for more "evidence" as opposed to "data. Teachers new to the field of teaching science will especially find this article helpful in developing their "delivery" to their students.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

  • on Tue Jun 24, 2008 2:41 AM

Fantastic, It must be made available to every one involved with teaching and learning process in any capacity as teacher or parents. It is a most important point of view essential for understanding. Perhaps lack of understanding of proper use of word is the main cause for bad teaching.

Man Mohan Singh Singh  (Shillong, )
Man Mohan Singh Singh (Shillong, )

  • on Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:37 AM

This article gives a thoughtful discussion of how word usage in science can cause misconceptions and misunderstandings. It give suggests for the correct usage of many words and concepts in science. One concept emphasized is that "Science is subject to revision." This means that science is in constant flux with new discoveries every day.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Sat Apr 09, 2011 5:02 PM

The article points out several important concepts in the nature of science and how the vocabulary is not being used appropriately with regard to the nature of science. I plan to incoporate the ideas in the article at the start of the school year so students are aware from the start.

Susan German  (Hallsville, MO)
Susan German (Hallsville, MO)


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