Reflection on the process of science & geoscience
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
an empirical process (even if it's not stated as such) in which communication is essential, derived from scientific theories and include some aspect of science as a human construct in the context of geosciences.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Students should be asked to reflect on how they this science is "done" (what is the process of science?) before they come to class (or at the beginning of class time). Students pick up ~5 cards that contain statements regarding the nature of science (based on Cobern & Loving, 1998 but modified for a greater emphasis on communication in science as developed by van der Hoeven Kraft et al., 2009), for example, "Writing is the primary vehicle by which scientists communicate with one another around the world." Some statements may include inaccurate views, such as "If a scientist develops a theory but shares it with no one, she has still contributed to the work of science."
1) Students sort through these cards (Acrobat (PDF) 238kB Dec18 14) as individuals and then as a group and eventually construct a group paragraph (with a guiding rubric (Microsoft Word 51kB Jul15 09)). A powerpoint presentation guides them through the steps powerpoint presentation (PowerPoint 1.7MB Sep17 08).
2) They share their paragraph(s) with the class.
3) This results in a class discussion about the commonalities and differences in the paragraphs.
4) Students are then assigned a reading homework assignment about the history of geology (Bryson, 2003) with guided questions.
5) The next class starts with a discussion about these questions--they are designed to focus students on some of the components that may be missing from their paragraphs (also included in the powerpoint).
6) After the reading, vocabulary of scientific theory and hypothesis are discussed and defined.
7) In the end, students are asked to re-reflect on their initial ideas and what changed and what caused their ideas to change. These ideas are then re-visited throughout the semester in the context of specific topics.
Metacognitive components of the activityStudents are asked to reflect on what they know before they begin the activity (activating their prior knowledge). They then re-visit their ideas at the end of the activity to determine how their ideas have changed or not changed as a result of the conversation from the class activity and additional reading.
Metacognitive goals for this activity:There are three primary goals for including metacognition in this activity:
1) Students will gain a greater understanding of the content by taking the time to reflect on their learning before and after the activity.
2) Students will start to appreciate the power of self-reflection in the learning process
3) The instructor will gain valuable feedback from the students in what they learned and areas that still need to be emphasized.
Assessing students' metacognitionApproximately 90% of the participants in past semesters have indicated that their understanding has changed and increased. In assessing their pre vs. post written prompts, participating in this activity increases their understanding of the content. Whether they now appreciate the importance of self-reflection is less known. However, at the end of the semester students are asked to rank self-reflection as important or non-important in their learning process, and it is consistently rated as helpful or extremely helpful.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Another important assessment that comes from this activity is the instructor's ability to determine what students preconceptions are with regard to the Process of Science. This can help them to gauge what interventions and areas of emphasis may need to be made throughout the semester.
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (PowerPoint 1.7MB Sep17 08)
Nature of Scientific Communication Card Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 238kB Dec18 14)
Student Rubric (Microsoft Word 36kB Sep17 08) to give to students for creating their group paragraph if you choose to evaluate their group paragraph and writing process
Instructor Rubric (Microsoft Word 51kB Jul15 09) for the instructor to use to assign a point value to the paragraph (if you so choose), includes both expert view and varying levels of novice perspective as well as negative values for persistent misconceptions (minimum = -6, maximum = 20).
**Both rubrics are generated based on literature-based definitions (for a good review, see Abd-El-Khalick & Lederman, 2000), some of the misconceptions were constructed based on student responses**
Abd-El Khalick, F., & Lederman, N. G. (2000). Improving Science Teachers' Conceptions of Nature of Science: A Critical Review of the Literature. International Journal of Science Education, 22(7), 665-701.
Bryson, B. (2003). A Short History of Nearly Everything: Random House.
Cobern, W. W., & Loving, C. C. (1998). The Card Exchange: Introducing the Philosophy of Science. In W. F. McComas (Ed.), The Nature of Science in Science Education: Rationales and Strategies (pp. 73-82). Netherlands: Kluwer
van der Hoeven, K. J., Baker, D. R., Weaver, D., Clark, D., Lang, M.G., Kook, J. (2009). Nature of Scientific Communication Card Exchange. Activity developed for professional development associated with the Communication in Science Inquiry Project (CISIP). NSF Grant#: 0353469.