Sandoval, W. A. (2005). Understanding students’ practical epistemologies and their influence on learning through inquiry. Science Education, 89(4), 634–656. doi:10.1002/sce.20065
Page: 9 What the above studies and others show is that students at all age levels commonly have inarticulate ideas about the nature and role of scientiﬁc experimentation, and the relation between method and theory.
Page: 9 Methods of Science.
Page: 9 Although Deanna Kuhn has argued that most children, and even lay adults, fail to distinguish between theories and evidence (Kuhn, 1993; Kuhn et al., 1988), a number of researchers have demonstrated that children as young as ﬁve (Sodian, Zaitchik, & Carey, 1991; Tschirgi, 1980) and certainly older students, can in fact distinguish ideas from experiments designed to test those ideas (Carey & Smith, 1993; Chinn & Brewer, 1998; Koslowski, 1996; Sandoval & Morrison, 2003; Smith et al., 2000).
Page: 9 Science as Constructed. Through middle school, students do not readily acknowledge that scientiﬁc knowledge is constructed. Younger students tend to report that scientiﬁc knowledge resides directly in experimental results, whereas older students talk about ideas as being deﬁnitely right or wrong (Carey et al., 1989; Carey & Smith, 1993; Driver et al., 1996; Mackay, 1971; Ryan & Aikenhead, 1992). By high school, there is evidence that some students have developed notions that scientists construct models and theories (Driver et al., 1996; Lederman & O’Malley, 1990; Solomon, Scott, & Duveen, 1996). Students who have constructivist notions appear to have more productive science-learning strategies (Hammer, 1994), and perform better in inquiry-oriented environments (Linn & Songer, 1993; Tobin, Tippins, & Hook, 1995; Windschitl & Andre, 1998).
Page: 9 The general picture from such studies is that students’ ideas about for- mal science follow a developmental trajectory toward increasing sophistication throughout adolescence (Driver et al., 1996; Leach et al., 1997; Mackay, 1971; Ryan & Aikenhead, 1992), but tend to remain fairly na¨ıve through high school or even university instruction.
Page: 10 Forms of Scientific Knowledge.
Page: 10 Students also seem to think of scientiﬁc models in a common everyday sense, as physical replicas of some aspect of the world, rather than conceptual systems for explaining phenomena (Grosslight et al., 1991).
Page: 10 Through adolescence, most students seem to be- lieve that scientiﬁc knowledge is, or at least can be, certain. Students talk about ideas as either being right or wrong. As instruction tends to focus on what Duschl (1990) calls “ﬁnal form science,” divorcing ideas from their historical development, most students seem to believe that old ideas are simply wrong and replaced by newer ideas. For summaries, see the reviews by (Abd-El-Khalick & Lederman, 2000b; Driver et al., 1996; Lederman, 1992).
Page: 10 Certainty of Scientific Knowledge.
Page: 10 Most students, even through high school, appear to believe that hypotheses, theories, and laws are related in a linear hierarchy from less to more proof. That is, hypotheses are guesses, theories are hypotheses supported by evidence, and laws have been irrefutably proven (Carey et al., 1989; Ryan & Aikenhead, 1992; Sandoval & Morrison, 2003; Smith et al., 2000).
Page: 10 In sum, we do not yet know very much about how students think of the diversity of sci- entiﬁc methods, because assessments focus exclusively on experimentation as the method of generating scientiﬁc knowledge.