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Texts for Teaching the Process of Science

The following list of texts were compiled and reviewed by faculty members who participated in the 2009 Process of Science workshop.

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General Science

Process of Science
The Process of Science
A. Carpi and A.E. Egger
Intended audience: Undergraduates, advanced high school, and their teachers
URL:http://www.processofscience.com/


Publisher/Source

Visionlearning

URL

http://www.processofscience.com/

Summary

This series of modules, freely available on the web in English and Spanish, addresses several aspects of the process of science in detail using examples from different disciplines. The modules are grouped by topics: Scientific research methods including an introduction to research practice, experimentation, description, modeling, and comparison; Data including how data is analyzed and interpreted, visualizing data, why statistics are used on data, and the meaning of error and uncertainty; Scientific communication including how to read journal articles, why we use peer review, how scientists utilize the scientific literature, and what goes on at scientific meetings; Ideas in science including theories, hypotheses, and laws, and what is involved in scientific controversy; The scientific community including scientists, professional societies and institutions, and scientific ethics. Each module can stand alone but they can also be read in conjunction with modules about scientific knowledge. Each module also includes at least one in-depth example of the process at work.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

The key concepts in the process of science addressed in these texts are as follows:
  1. Science is a process of investigation into the natural world and the knowledge generated through that process.
  2. Scientists use multiple research methods to study the natural world.
  3. Data collected through scientific research must be analyzed and interpreted to be used as evidence.
  4. Scientific theories are testable explanations supported by multiple lines of evidence.
  5. Scientific knowledge evolves with new evidence and perspectives.
  6. Science benefits from the creativity curiosity diversity and diligence of individuals.
  7. Science is subject to human bias and error.
  8. The community of science engages in debate and mitigates human errors.
  9. Uncertainty is inherent in nature but scientists work to minimize and quantify it in data collection and analysis.
  10. Scientists value open and honest communication in reporting research.
  11. Science both influences and is influenced by the societies and cultures in which it operates.
  12. Science is valuable to individuals and to society.

Science Ethics
The Process of Science: Module VIII - Scientific Ethics
A. Carpi and A.E. Egger
Intended audience: Undergraduate and above
URL: http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=161&l=


Publisher/Source

Visionlearning

URL

http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=161&l=

Summary

The online text Process of Science: Scientific Ethics is one of twenty-four modules offered by Visionlearning on teaching the process of science. Ethics in science span a wide range of topics from ethical conduct to ethical treatment of animals to ethical standards and more, and the authors do a nice job on touching on the full spectrum. They also talk about the difference between ethical mistakes and ethical misconduct, which is an important point to realize - basically the difference between knowingly committing an ethical breach versus making an honest mistake. The module is concise and has a few main sections with real-life examples of ethical mistakes and misconduct. The section on ethical conduct regarding everyday decisions in science is appreciated as it is an aspect of science and mentoring that is often forgotten or ignored. Overall this module is informative and supplies crucial information for the broader topic of teaching the process of science.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

This module is an important part of teaching the process of science and should certainly be incorporated into introductory courses.


Science Storytelling
Science as Storytelling
B.R. Bickmore and D.A. Grandy
Intended audience: Undergraduates
URL: http://serc.carleton.edu/teacherprep/resources/activities/storytelling.html


Publisher/Source

SERC

URL

http://serc.carleton.edu/teacherprep/resources/activities/storytelling.html

Summary

Science is difficult to define, but here we explain it as the art of creating stories that are useful for predicting (and possibly controlling) nature. To make their stories useful for this purpose, scientists have developed certain rules that stories must generally follow to be considered scientific. These rules involve the reproducibility of observations, predictive power, prospects for improvement, naturalism, uniformitarianism, and other considerations.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

Science is the modern art of creating stories that explain observations of the natural world and that could be useful for predicting and possibly even controlling nature.


Short History of Nearly Everything
A Short History of Nearly Everything
B. Bryson
Intended audience: Lay public


Publisher/Source

Broadway Publishing

Summary

Bill Bryson's approach is to tell the interesting stories behind a wide variety of major scientific discoveries. He covers a lot of ground in an engaging and funny way and portrays scientists as human beings with their own foibles. While there is very little scientific content in the book, it is an effective hook to get students interested in the process of science, and inevitably the interest in the scientific content has followed.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

See above description.


What is this thing called science
What is This Thing Called Science
A.F. Chalmers
Intended audience: Undergraduates, Graduate students


Publisher/Source

Hackett Publishing Company Inc.

Summary

Chalmers presents a variety of philosophical perspectives on the epistemological nature of scientific knowledge. He begins with several historically important perspectives: an inductivist perspective, then falsificationism as developed by Popper, followed by an examination of the perspectives of Kuhn, Lakatos, and Feyerabend. For each perspective he summarizes the essential aspects concerning the nature of scientific knowledge and its validation, followed by a criticism of each. These perspectives make up 10 of the book's 15 chapters. The remaining chapters examine more contemporary philosophical viewpoints.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

Chalmers examines how different philosophers/scientists have described the processes involved in the generation and validation of scientific knowledge. He addresses the role of empirical observations theories and laws logic and cultural and sociological factors in the development of scientific ideas.


Can Science Win Over Climate Change Skeptics
Can Science Win Over Climate Change Skeptics?
M. J. Dougherty
Intended audience: Educators, General public
URL:http://www.actionbioscience.org/education/dougherty.html


Publisher/Source

ActionBioscience.org

URL

http://www.actionbioscience.org/education/dougherty.html

Summary

Explaining global warming is complex, making it harder to argue against climate change skeptics. Teaching the nature of science may be a better way to help students and the public understand that climate change is real, highlight the benefits from climate change awareness, and provide concise direct answers to critics of climate change hypotheses.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

This article provides suggestions for teachers who may be challenged by students. The author explains that science leads to scientific knowledge that is tentative and incomplete but consensus develops around well-supported hypotheses, which generally become stronger over time. Science operates within a framework of methodological naturalism - that is, explanations of observable phenomena are limited to the natural world (i.e. no magic allowed). Science is idealized often, but two of its characteristics are crucial here: replicability (i.e. using well-accepted experimental systems and procedures) and peer review and publication. For issues where substantial consensus exists such as global warming, HIV as the cause of AIDS, and evolution, we may rely on the nature of science itself to bolster our confidence in the consensus view.



New Model for Inquiry
A New Model for Inquiry: Is the Scientific Method Dead?
W.S. Harwood
Intended audience: Science educators


Publisher/Source

Journal of College Science Teaching

URL

http://www.btanj.org/demo/2004/harwood1.pdf

Summary

In the author's words, the activity model provides a richer description of the process of scientific inquiry but continues to describe a single approach to doing science. I believe that this model will help science teachers and science teacher educators in framing inquiry teaching and learning. Students and teachers of science may wrongly assume that doing experiments is the only time when they are doing science.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

The process of scientific inquiry is emphasized in this article.


State of Science Education
The State of Science Education: Subject Matter Without Context
N.G. Lederman
Intended audience: Science educators


Publisher/Source

The Electronic Journal of Science Education 32 1998

URL

http://wolfweb.unr.edu/homepage/jcannon/ejse/lederman.html

Summary

The ability to use scientific knowledge to make informed personal and societal decisions is the essence of what contemporary science educators and reform documents define as scientific literacy. Using this platform, Lederman critiques recent reform visions that intend to help students develop adequate conceptions of the nature of science (NOS) and scientific inquiry. The article enumerates aspects of a definition of Nature of Science: understanding the distinction between observation and inference, understanding the distinction between laws and theories, that scientific knowledge involves human imagination and creativity, that scientific knowledge is subjective, that science is practiced in a larger societal context, that scientific knowledge is never absolute, and that scientific processes (collecting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions, observing, and inferring) are different from the nature of science that refers to the epistemological underpinnings of the activities of science. Lederman also defines scientific inquiry.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

The nature of science involves how individuals conceptualize scientific knowledge and the process of scientific inquiry. An accurate view notices the process of making observations and building explanatory theories to explain those observations. Such explanations are prone to change as new evidence emerges. Structures such as atoms are theoretical structures, not direct observations. Scientific questions arise due to the current models and areas of high interest. Thus human history has an influence over the emerging scientific knowledge. Historically science education tried to convey the nature of science through indirect methods. Educators hoped students would glean the scientific process through performing experiments and learning about the history of science. Lederman, however, advocates directly teaching students about the nature of science. He also strongly objects to the teaching of the Scientific Method as this causes misconceptions of student understanding of scientific inquiry. They believe scientists follow the same steps for every experiment when really there are many different types of scientific inquiry and these arise from different scenarios. Other misconceptions include believing theories grow into laws when validated enough. This is certainly not the case as laws are mathematical relationships and theories are explanations of observations. Clarifying public understanding of the nature of science starts with making sure educators would serve well to improve public understanding.


GSA Nature of Science
Nature of Science and the Scientific Method
C.V. McLelland
Intended audience: Undergraduate educators
URL:http://www.geosociety.org/educate/NatureOfScience.htm (more info)


Publisher/Source

Geological Society of America

URL

http://www.geosociety.org/educate/NatureOfScience.htm (more info)

Summary

This short, free publication from the Geological Society of America gives an overview of the scientific method and how it is used. The emphasis of the document is on describing the scientific method as a flexible process that involves critical thinking rather than a series of steps that must be followed. Examples from the Earth sciences are used to illustrate the scientific method. The article includes a helpful one-page list of Talking Points about Science that gives an overview of the nature of science and ideas about how to address questions related to evolution creationism and intelligent design. This page seems especially useful for instructors of any level of science.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

Understanding of the scientific method is emphasized in this publication.



Integrated Coordinated Science
Integrated Coordinated Science
M. Smith, J.B. Southard, A. Einsenkraft, G. Freebury, R. Ritter, and R. Demery
Intended audience: High school


Publisher/Source

It's About Time

URL

http://www.its-about-time.com/htmls/intcoor/intcoor1.html

Summary

This text provides students with an introduction to the four major areas of science: Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics. The text provides exposure to various real-life applications and leads the students to think like a scientist as they attempt to deduce related science principles by conducting research or laboratory investigations.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

The process of science is not explicitly explained in this text. Students are told that they can do any science and the reason why is due to the textbook features. The features will help them learn science and how it works in their everyday lives. The features are listed in the order they presented for each investigation: Scenario, Challenge, Criteria, Goals, What Do You Already Know, Investigate, Reading Sections, Reflecting on the Activity, and the Challenge Science to Go Inquiring Further, Chapter Assessment, Science at Work.


Understanding Science
Understanding Science
The University of California Museum of Paleontology
Intended audience: Students in K - 16 and teachers of those grade levels
URL: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/index.php


Publisher/Source

University of California Museum of Paleontology

URL

http://undsci.berkeley.edu/index.php

Summary

This is a website is a free resource available to teachers to use in their classrooms with students to help teach the process of science and improve understanding of various science topics.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

Users are introduced to science via a link called Science 101 where science is defined by clarifying what it is and what it is not. There is a specific link titled the nuts and bolts of the process of science. This link leads the user to a write up of how science works and explains that the scientific method is too linear and simple for real science. The user can then go on to another link titled The real process of science which is presented using a complex graphic organizer that breaks down the process in terms of Exploration and Discovery, Testing Ideas, Benefits and Outcomes, and Community Analysis and feedback. These sections break down the process of science even further. The website also provides teachers the opportunity to find lesson plans related to the process of science or specific topics including 125 Questions: What We Don't Know, Who Pays for Science, Misconceptions, and I don't Know What to Believe.


Understanding Science 101
Understanding Science 101
The University of California Museum of Paleontology
Intended audience: Teachers, pre-service teachers, and undergraduates
URL: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/us101contents_01


Publisher/Source

The University of California Museum of Paleontology Berkeley and the Regents of the University of California

URL

http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/us101contents_01

Summary

This is a free online primer on the nature and process of science. It covers what science is and is not, how science works, the structure of scientific arguments, the role of the scientific community, how society and science mutually influence one another, and how we can use an understanding of the process of science in our everyday lives. Of special importance is the science checklist, which emphasizes the set of key characteristics that make science different from other human endeavors and the science flowchart which more accurately reflects the process of science.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

The authors emphasize that, unlike the scientific method, the real process of science is iterative and dynamic--and is not predetermined.



Astronomy

Discovering Astronomy
Discovering Astronomy 5th edition currently being revised for 6th edition
S.J. Shawl, K.M. Ashman, and B. Hufnagel
Intended audience: Undergraduates

Summary

Chapter 2 of this textbook is titled Science and Pseudoscience. Basically the chapter describes science as a process. That process is emphasized in a subsection titled Astronomy as a process and a major section titled Science as a Process. Specific examples are given: The face on Mars and the Martian meteorite and life. One way the process is emphasized is by means of a knowledge filter that shows how scientific information moves from initial ideas to inclusion in textbooks as accepted knowledge. The second half of the chapter contrasts the processes of science with those of pseudoscience. In that comparison it looks at science as a game in which there are specified rules that need to be followed asking if a hypothesis is at risk meaning that it could in principle be falsified giving simple answers to complex questions playing on fear and emotion and publication of ideas.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

See above description.



Biology

The Nature of Life
The Nature of Life: Readings in Biology
Edited by N. Carr, J. Coulson, M. Levine, G. Schoepfel, D. Whitfield, and M. Stefanski
Intended audience: High school and undergraduates


Publisher/Source

The Great Books Foundation 2001

Summary

This anthology is composed of scientists writing about their own work and discoveries, from the ancient Greeks through the current work of E.O. Wilson and Lynn Margulis. Included are Gregor Mendel describing patterns of inheritance on plants, Charles Darwin explaining the mechanism of natural selection, James Watson detailing his co-discovery of the structure of DNA, and Margulis reconstructing the conditions under which life came into being. Biographical information is included with each author's selection and guiding questions follow the selections.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

As stated in the Introduction, "Each of the volume's selections exemplifies the disciplined curiosity that informs the scientific process, and students are urged to consider their reading and discussions an experimental voyage: just as scientists form a hypothesis, test it, and reconsider it, you will read question and develop your own understanding about major issues in biology. We hope that your encounters with these writers will inspire a lifelong interest in the questions that remain to be answered or that must be asked anew."


Learning about the Nature of Science
Learning the Nature of Science
Susan Musante
Intended audience: Undergraduate introductory biology educators
URL: http://www.aibs.org/eye-on-education/eye_on_education_2005_10.html


Publisher/Source

The BioScience journal

URL

http://www.aibs.org/eye-on-education/eye_on_education_2005_10.html

Summary

The article uses interviews with introductory biology educators to show that it is essential that students understand how science is distinct from religious, cultural, philosophical, or other ways in which we address questions about the world, and how educators can help students hone their thinking skills to so they can make informed decisions about matters that affect not only their own personal lives, but all living things.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

The undergraduate introductory biology classroom can reinforce and extend the NSES concepts of science as a human endeavor and the nature of scientific knowledge and gain historical perspectives taught in elementary and secondary schools.


The Structure of DNA
The Structure of DNA: Cooperation and Competition
The University of California Museum of Paleontology
Intended audience: Teachers, pre-service teachers, and undergraduates
URL: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/dna_01


Publisher/Source

The University of California Museum of Paleontology Berkeley and the Regents of the University of California

URL

http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/dna_01

Summary

The text tells in a new way the story of the discovery of DNA's structure. It emphasizes the role that the whole scientific community - not just Watson, Crick, Wilkins, and Franklin - played in contributing evidence and background understanding that made the breakthrough possible. The story begins by reviewing what was known about DNA before the four major players came onto the scene follows the ins and outs of their investigations highlights how they shared information with one another and got information from the rest of the community and ends with a reflection on how the major players behaved or did not behave in ways that contribute to scientific progress.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

The text emphasizes that science can test hypotheses about things that are too small for us to observe directly, that science relies on communication within a diverse scientific community, that scientists are expected to give credit where credit is due, and that scientific discoveries lead to ongoing research.


Earth Science

Essentials of Geology
Essentials of Geology
S. Chernicoff and H. Fox
Intended audience: Undergraduate

Publisher/Source

Houghton-Mifflin

Summary

Essentials of Geology is an introductory geology textbook with 19 chapters divided into three sections: Forming the Earth, Shaping the Earth's Crust, and Sculpting the Earth's Surface. Chapters include numerous color photos and diagrams and "Highlights" that go into depth on topics likely to be of popular interest to students. At the end of each chapter is a helpful summary of main points with vocabulary words in bold, along with review questions and active-learning suggestions. A notable aspect of this text is the inclusion of "Geology at a Glance" diagrams in each chapter, which graphically represent the chapter's fundamental concepts and their interrelationships.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

Chapter 1 includes a description of the scientific method and its particular applications in geology. Following this, the authors briefly discuss some specific geological concepts and the history of their discovery. Many chapters describe some ways in which geologists figure out the processes and principles explained in the chapter either at the beginning or later in the chapter. Such discussions are not prominently featured within the chapters, which primarily address geological content.


Principles of Environmental Geochemistry
Principles of Environmental Geochemistry
G. Nelson Eby
Intended audience: Upper level undergraduate

Publisher/Source

Thomson: Brooks/Cole

Summary

The text Principals of Environmental Geochemistry, written by Nelson Eby, is a comprehensive resource covering all aspects of environmental geochemistry. It provides a very complete treatment of aqueous geochemistry and focuses on quantitative problem solving with numerous homework problems/questions in each chapter and case studies scattered throughout. Material covered in the first four chapters provides the theoretical basis upon which many examples case studies and problem sets in the following chapters are based. This text is not for an introductory course but more likely an upper level undergraduate or graduate course. The strength of this text is certainly its quantitative problem solving leanings and review questions at the end of each chapter. If you are looking for a visually stimulating or intriguing introductory geochemistry book this is not the text for you. But it would be a nice resource to have on the shelf and something I imagine would be referred to often.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

It does not specifically focus any of its pages on the process of science however the author clearly values the idea of building the basic concepts of science and in this case geochemistry. The most obvious embrace of teaching the process of science is the way this text focuses on the quantitative skills involved in problem solving. The author stresses the important of applying the basic skills to a variety of questions and topics. The text is laid out in a way that allows the reader or student to do this as they use the basic concepts of environmental geochemistry to investigate and understand different environments and disciplines.


The Good Earth
The Good Earth: Introduction to Earth Science
D. McConnell, D. Steer, C. Knight, K. Owens and L. Park
Intended audience: Undergraduate

Publisher/Source

McGraw Hill

Summary

This is an introductory Earth science text. It covers the usual topics Earth in space plate tectonic materials volcanoes earthquakes geologic time weathering and landslides atmosphere and ocean surface and ground water weather and climate. I wish it also had earth resources and rock deformation. The book was written as a collaboration between geoscientists and science educators. It includes a number of more innovative ways to help students organize and evaluate the science content such as discussion of scientific process concept maps Venn diagrams rubrics and others. It also introduces many examples of the relevance of geosciences to human interactions with the earth hopefully building a context for scientific literacy. As I will be using this text in a large-enrollment introductory course for largely non-majors I am hoping this approach will help to enhance their interest in geosciences. Although students will be given opportunities to interact with each other in class their individual interaction with me is limited in such a setting and using a text that supports the students in assessing their own learning through the various Checkpoints will hopefully increase their success in the course.

Process of Science Used or Emphasized within the Text

This is an introductory Earth Science text and covers the usual range of topics for such a course. The first chapter introduces science as a process of discovery. It does discuss inductive and deductive reasoning and the relationship between observations, hypotheses, and theories, but I feel that it doesn't oversimplify the process of science. The chapter goes on to discuss what characterizes good and bad science and gives examples of each. I think this first chapter provides a good introduction but what I really like about the text is that these concepts actually reappear in subsequent chapters. In several instances students are asked to identify elements of scientific process in a description of a study of discovery. Students are asked to design questions for a scientific study, and in several instances the student is asked to read a article of several paragraphs and answer questions regarding the observations evidence hypotheses and/or predictions in a scientific study. The disconnect between the scientific development of the geologic time scale and the some creationists view of the age/evolution of the earth is discussed in the chapter on geologic time summary. Students are asked to analyze data and observations to assess risk. This provides experience with a form of scientific analysis.





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