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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Revealing Undergraduates' Conceptual Use of the Nature of Science when Evaluating Scientific Information in the Media
by Snyder, Michele A., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2016, 155; 10109421
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored undergraduate students’ conceptual use of the nature of science (NOS) when evaluating scientific information presented in the media. Cognitive flexibility theory was used to explain how NOS understanding can be transferred to new learning situations such as those presented in the media. A mixed methods approach was used to assess participants’ NOS conception. Pre and post NOS conceptions were measured using the Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry (SUSSI) questionnaire. The questionnaire was used to explore the level of NOS conception (naïve, transitional, informed) college-level non-science majors have about NOS and what impact, if any, does explicit NOS-prompted writing have on participants’ conceptualization of NOS. In this study, journal writing was used as a knowledge-transforming space for the learner and as a methodological tool for the researcher to uncover how individuals use their conceptualization of NOS while attending to scientific information presented in the media. A case study approach was used to characterize how participants who engaged in NOS-prompted writing activities and who received explicit NOS instruction applied NOS conceptions in the evaluation of scientific information in the media.

This study revealed no differences in overall NOS conceptions between pre and post- NOS questionnaire participants. There was also no significant difference in NOS conceptions between the intervention group that received NOS-prompted writing and explicit instruction and a comparison group that did not. After explicit NOS instruction and teacher feedback in the group that used NOS-prompted writing there was limited overall change in NOS understanding. Multiple opportunities of explicit classroom instruction were given to participants by the teacher regarding social and cultural embeddedness of science and by the fourth journal entry changes in NOS understanding occurred for this aspect of NOS but in different ways for each of three case study participants.

Case study analyses of each participant revealed changes in NOS understanding were highly individualized. The more informed the NOS conception the more flexible the participant was at assembling knowledge structures within the context of evaluating scientific information in the media.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Oliveira, Alandeon
Commitee: Learned, Julie, Wilcox, Kristen
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Education Theory and Practice
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 77/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education
Keywords: Cognitive flexibility theory, Mixed-methods, Nature of science
Publication Number: 10109421
ISBN: 978-1-339-72707-3
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