New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

The Reflective Reviewing Café – Qualitative Analyses of Students’ Views on Nature of Science

Julia Birkholz, University Bremen (Germany)

Doris Elster, University Bremen, Institute for Science Education, Biology Department (Germany)


An appropriate understanding of the Nature of Science (NOS) and of Scientific Inquiry (NOSI) is one of the essential tools for critical thinking about and reflection on scientific knowledge (Lederman 2007). These are fundamental skills which constitute a vital part of the repertoire of future responsible citizens (Felt 2008).

To improve this understanding, the NOS/I-aspects (Un)certainty and Purposes of Scientific Knowledge as well as Scientific Practices for Justification were emphasized in reflective reviews conducted in the outreach lab “Backstage Science” (basci) of the University of Bremen. The Reflective Reviewing Café (RC) is based on the world café method (Brown & Isaac 2007) and allows students to reflect upon self-performed scientific activities and the resulting knowledge.

In a long-term study the impact of the RC on understandings of NOS/I was analysed via questionnaire (pre/post/follow-up). The quantitative results indicate that participation not in one, but in all three outreach lab study-modules with following RC-dialogues, leads to improvement in, among others, the understanding of Scientific Practices for Justification, the “how scientists work and why they do it the way they do”.

In the next step, the recorded dialogues of the RCs (32) were transcripted, revised and encoded using the structured content analysis by Mayring (2010). This allows the theoretical considerations regarding the RC development to be applied to the students’ expressions as well as taking the students’ views into account.

Besides the targeted aspects some related ones like Science Ethics and Development of Scientific Knowledge were found. The understanding of Scientific Practices for Justification is shifting distinguishably from first to third time attending the RC: More and more students leave ideas of “the experiment as the only way of showing truth” while abstract ways of research programs and justification processes as well as alternative beliefs regarding “scientific truths” emerge. These findings support the quantitative data.

Finalizing work will be to analyse more closely particular dialogue parts with the documentary analysis by Bohnsack (2014). This method allows an even closer look at the students’ views, so that implicit differences between levels of views, their stability and ongoing changes can be investigated.


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