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Establishing a context for student inquiry in the historical sciences

Paper to be presented the National Association for Research in Science Teaching Meeting Dallas, TX. April 4-7, 2005

Abstract: Much of the current science curriculum reform is driven by the goal of engaging students in realistic aspects of science practice. The emphasis on understanding what scientists do requires careful consideration of the nature of science from a disciplinary perspective. Unfortunately, there has been little attention paid to the unique features of inquiry in the historical sciences. Without explicit attention to the nature of historical scientific inquiry students will not have the conceptual tools to engage in disciplinary reasoning in evolutionary biology, geology, cosmology and paleontology. This paper reports on an analysis of philosophical, historical, disciplinary and educational literature and presents a framework for addressing the goals, methods, and epistemological basis of historical scientific inquiry in science curricula. The framework makes the distinction between modeling and historical reconstruction as two interdependent goals of historical inquiry. It also addresses the narrative structure of claims about historical events and the standards for argumentation when the focus is on the casual basis for pasts events. The framework for characterizing historical scientific inquiry is then used to articulate a set of design principles which can inform the development of curricula that give students opportunities to engage in realistic inquiry in the historical sciences.

An introduction to inquiry in evolutionary biology

Donovan, S. (2001). An introduction to inquiry in evolutionary biology. Working Paper for The National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science (NCISLA). Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Madison, WI.

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Abstract:The goal of this short paper is to provide some introduction to the scientific practices of evolutionary biologists. You will find that this is not a collection of things we know about evolution, but instead an analysis of how evolutionary biologists come to know what they know. This distinction, between what is known and how knowledge is developed, has been an important one for the MUSE project. Traditionally, curricula grow from a desire to share an established body of knowledge with students. Although we too believe that learning some of the “facts” is important to understanding a discipline, we feel that it is equally important that students develop some familiarity with the practices that contributed to the development of that knowledge.

Using the nature of evolutionary inquiry as a guide for curriculum development

Donovan, S. (2001). Using the nature of evolutionary inquiry as a guide for curriculum development. Presented at The International History and Philosophy of Science and Science Teaching (IHPST) Annual Meeting, Denver, CO November 7-11, 2001.

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This paper is an attempt to provide an alternative framework for considering the organization of instruction in evolutionary biology. Instead of focusing on enumerating the “essential facts” known from past inquiries this framework is built to reflect the practices of evolutionary biologists. Instead of characterizing understanding as familiarity with particular products of evolution research this framework emphasizes the ways that we come to know things in evolutionary biology. Specifically, this framework is informed by three broad characteristics of evolutionary inquiry: the nature of questions; the nature of explanations; and, the nature of arguments. The first, the nature of questions, involves understanding something about what drives research. The second, the nature of explanations, reflects the ways that real world phenomena are linked to theoretical causal systems (models). And the third, the nature of arguments, focuses on the criteria by which explanations are evaluated.

Eye on Education: Using Bioinformatics in the Undergraduate Classroom

Musante, Susan. (2004). Eye on Education: Using Bioinformatics in the Undergraduate Classroom. BioScience 54(7). 625.

Full text PDF from Ingenta Select   HTML version from AIBS

This article describes the BEDROCK Bioinformatics Education Project and some of the faculty projects it supports.


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