New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Options for Reflective Learning on the Characteristics of Scientific Inquiry within a Students’ Participation Project in Authentic Scientific Research.

Erika Keller, University of Graz, University of Vienna (Austria)


From 2012 to 2014 high school students participated in the Sparkling Science Project: “Pollen and Respirable Dust – Mutual Allergy Triggers? “
The project had the aim to investigate – together with the students – potential connections between common allergy triggering substances in pollen and respirable dust.

The students were involved in the research within three disciplines: Microbiology, Analytical Chemistry and Botany. The participation of the students was differentiated according to their interests: The whole class participated in a demonstration workshop, where principles of laboratory work and the inquiry tools of all three disciplines were experienced. In the next step students could immerse more profoundly in one of the three research areas within a three days’ course. Finally those who wanted to deepen their research skills could apply for a one - month – internship in the chosen discipline.

One goal of the project was to increase the understanding of how science works, including the understanding of basic principles of scientific knowledge acquisition, scientific thinking and reasoning, investigation practices, standards and values of research procedures – in other words to deepen their knowledge of Nature of Science (NOS) and Nature of Scientific Inquiry (NOSI) (NRC, 1996). For the development of a profound knowledge about NOS / NOSI the active participation in research processes and the explicit reflection on NOS / NOSI aspects are important. Schwartz and Crawford show that the engagement in an authentic research setting alone will not automatically result in tackling NOS. One step to support the development of a more informed knowledge about NOS / NOSI is to make aspects of NOS explicitly aware.

In order to fulfil this requirement, special attention was drawn to the development of the students’ epistemological views on science and scientific research in the project accompanying educational research. Through a formative mind map setting, guided discussions, reflective workshops on NOS / NOSI, reflective writings and interviews the students’ views on scientific research were recorded.  Experiences with those different methods were documented and discussed with regard to further development of Sparkling Science projects.

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