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Error and the Nature of Science

Oksana Hlodan, Douglas Allchin
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Author Profile


Understanding the nature of science, especially how scientists err, is an essential tool for
  • assessing the reliability and scope of scientific claims
  • perceiving the scope of these claims
  • making personal and public decisions

There are two parts to the activity:
  • the article is suitable for professional development of teachers, educator discussion groups, etc.
  • the activities suggested by the article and in the accompanying links are aimed at students and vary in length and scope.

Course URL: http://www.actionbioscience.org/education/allchin2.html
Course Size:
less than 15

Course Format:
Small-group seminar

Course Context:

Error and the Nature of Science is an article that provides both professional development ideas on best practices about how to teach about the nature of science and suggestions for teaching activities that are suitable for high school students and college introductory students.

The resources are used not in a traditional classroom setting but at presentations at educational conferences and workshops and provided online.

Course Goals:

Understanding the nature of science, especially how scientists err, is an essential tool for:

Course Features:

Teaching the Process of Science

Teaching nature of science (and error, in particular) requires a shift in emphasis. Nature of science lessons must be inserted in the standard curriculum and regularly reinforced to encourage habits of mind. Some suggestions for student activities: black box exercises, case studies, lab work.


How to assess learning is brainstormed at presentations/workshops and links to assessment rubrics are provided.


References and Notes:

For student activities: Black-Box Exercises
Exercise links:

For student activities: Mock-Forensics Activities
Exercise links:
Related articles on ActionBiosience.org:

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