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Integrating the nature and process of science: Modifying your current instruction

Many of the labs that you currently use can be modified to better incorporate, reinforce, and make explicit the nature and process of science. Consider the following questions:

  • Are there any changes that can be made to current labs that can make them more inquiry-based?

  • Are students given the opportunity to pose and modify hypotheses, look at multiple lines of evidence, and experience the logic of the scientific argument?

  • Are students encouraged to ask questions? When possible, try to respond to those questions and discuss with students how they could design an investigation to help answer their questions.

  • Are students encouraged to work collaboratively?

  • Does the lesson provide an opportunity for students to reflect on how they are doing science or on how science operates more broadly? For example, any non-cookbook, inquiry-based science activity can be extended to emphasize the process of science by having students chart their own path on the flowchart using paper and pencil or by using our interactive journaling tool: the How Science Works web app.

You can also modify lecture topics to better emphasize the nature and process of science. For example, this article from The American Biology Teacher1 explains how to incorporate episodes from the history of science into your teaching and bring out the essential nature-of-science concepts within these episodes.

Identifying your learning goals
A guide to Understanding Science 101

1Howe, E. 2009. Henry David Thoreau, Forest Succession & The Nature of Science. The American Biology Teacher 71(9):397-404. With permission from the National Association of Biology Teachers.

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