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Modified Conceptual Framework for Pre-service Teachers

Due to time constraints, most courses for pre-service and in-service teachers do not cover all of the concepts included at the undergraduate level of the Understanding Science conceptual framework. This list provides a "top twenty" subset of concepts that should be the focus of instruction at this level.

What is science?

  • Science is both a body of knowledge and the process for building that knowledge.

  • Science aims to build increasingly broad and coherent explanations of the natural world.

  • Science works only with testable ideas.

  • Scientists strive to test their idea with evidence from the natural world; a hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as new ideas surface and new evidence is discovered.

How science works

  • The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.

  • Scientists test their ideas (hypotheses and theories) by figuring out what expectations are generated by an idea and making observations to find out whether those expectations are borne out.

  • Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, computational, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data.

  • Scientists look for patterns in their observations and data.

  • Different scientists may interpret the same data in different ways; data interpretation can be influenced by a scientist's assumptions, biases, and background.

  • Accepted scientific theories are not tenuous; they must survive rigorous testing and be supported by multiple lines of evidence to be accepted.

The social side of science

  • Science depends on communication within the scientific community.

  • Scientists usually work collaboratively.

  • Scientists scrutinize each other's work through peer review and other processes.

  • The scientific community is global and diverse.

  • Anyone can participate in science, but the pursuit of science as a career often requires extensive formal training.

  • Scientists are creative.

What has science done for you lately?

  • Science builds knowledge about the world but people decide how that knowledge should be used.

  • Scientific knowledge helps us make decisions that affect our lives every day.

A scientific approach to life

  • Problem-solving and decision-making benefit from a scientific approach.


Teacher's lounges

K-16 Resources


Guide to Understanding Science 101


Conceptual framework


Teaching tools


Resource database


Image library


How Understanding Science is being used


Correcting misconceptions


Educational research


Alignment with science standards


How Science Works on iTunes



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