Exploring secondary school students’ stances on the predictive and explanatory power of science

Journal article


Billingsley, B. and Nassaji, M. 2019. Exploring secondary school students’ stances on the predictive and explanatory power of science. Science & Education. 28 (1-2), pp. 87-107. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-019-00031-7
AuthorsBillingsley, B. and Nassaji, M.
Abstract

There are widespread calls for school education to put more emphasis on developing students’ appreciation of the power and limitations of science. Without effective teaching, there is a risk that sensationalist media claims will unduly influence students’ perceptions of the power of science to already explain and predict aspects of our daily lives. Secondly, schools have a role in preparing students for a future in which they are likely to work and play alongside increasingly humanlike machines.

The study reported here assessed the feasibility of a survey to discover students’ stances on the predictive and explanatory power of science in relation to personality, behaviour and the mind The study forms part of a larger project that seeks to identify ways that schools can develop students’ epistemic insight when they consider big questions about the nature of reality and human personhood. Beginning with a broad conceptualisation of personhood designed to pick up on questions in the science-religion dialogue, we drew on interviews and focus groups with students in upper secondary school to formulate a set of statements that seemed to be effective in stimulating discussion about the power and limitations of science. The questionnaire was administered to 311 secondary students. Students’ responses indicate that they were engaged by the theme and that they were generally not working with a secure overarching scientistic or nonscientistic framework. When we grouped students according to how they responded to the narrower theme of personality and behaviour, one in five of the cohort was labelled as strongly scientistic. We also found that in their comments at different points in the survey, the majority of students expressed ideas and everyday phrases associated with scientism.

The article concludes with implications for future research and further recommendations for teachers.

Year2019
JournalScience & Education
Journal citation28 (1-2), pp. 87-107
PublisherSpringer
ISSN0926-7220
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-019-00031-7
Publication dates
Online27 Feb 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited06 Aug 2019
Accepted26 Feb 2019
Output statusPublished
Additional information

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license.

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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/89088/exploring-secondary-school-students-stances-on-the-predictive-and-explanatory-power-of-science

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