Science Teachers' Views of Argument in Scientific Inquiry and Argument-Based Science Instruction
Recent reforms have emphasized the role of argument in scientific inquiry to improve students’ scientific literacy. The most recent Korea National Science Curriculum also requires K-12 science teachers to implement argument-based inquiry activities in science classrooms. In order to facilitate students to engage in argument embedded in scientific inquiry, teachers should understand the logic and rationale behind scientific inquiry and be explicit about argument as an essential feature of scientific inquiry. Teachers’ beliefs about argument in scientific inquiry can act as a critical factor influencing whether and how they design and implement argument in their science classrooms. Several research studies have examined teachers’ views of scientific inquiry and inquiry teaching and recent studies have also examined teachers’ understanding of argument structure and pedagogical content knowledge of argumentation. However, less is known about teachers’ views of argument as a core activity of scientific inquiry and argument-based science instruction.
Prof. Aeran Choi’s recent publication, “Science Teachers' Views of Argument in Scientific Inquiry and Argument-Based Science Instruction” published in Research in Science Education, is aimed at examining Korean science teachers’ views of argument as a core activity of scientific inquiry and argument-based science instruction.
This study shows that some teachers misunderstand that argument is separate from scientific inquiry or do not know about this relationship. Even if they understand the relationship between argument and scientific inquiry and the meaning of argument in scientific inquiry, teachers’ understanding of argument in scientific inquiry varies in clarity and scope. Science teachers are unlikely to implement argument-based science lessons or stimulating students to engage in argument embedded in scientific inquiry if they do not understand the place or role of argument in scientific inquiry, do not recognize the importance and benefits of argument-based science instruction, or have insufficient efficacy in argument-based science instruction. Findings imply that it is necessary to provide science teachers with training programs that help them develop concrete and in-depth understandings of argument as a core activity of scientific inquiry, including both structural and dialogic aspects of argument as well as understanding of nature of science, which makes science different from other disciplines. While a majority of teachers seem to understand the relationship between scientific inquiry and argument, it was interesting that a relatively small number of teachers considered laboratory experiments to be topics of argument-based science instruction. It would be difficult for teachers who are used to confirmation-type laboratory activities to plan or implement argument-based scientific inquiry that includes generating questions about a natural phenomenon, designing investigations, proposing claims, providing evidence based on the data obtained from the investigation, and engaging in argument from evidence. In our study, none of the teachers experienced argument-based science instruction during their elementary, middle, or high school science education. It is evident that science teachers without experience of argument in their school science classes are unlikely to implement argument-based science instruction in their own science classrooms. Science textbooks and teaching materials, including laboratory and inquiry activities in which arguments are embedded, need to be developed for science teachers for classroom use. Findings of our study also imply the necessity of professional development programs that can help teachers experience argument-based inquiry investigations.
In this study, a majority of teachers who implemented argument-based science instruction recognized the benefits of argument-based science instruction, such as students solving problems on their own, sharing ideas and considering various perspectives, student improvement in thinking, and high class participation. Teachers’ successful experiences of argument-based science instruction would influence them to implement teaching strategy in their future lessons. Instead of providing short-term lecture based programs without class-based practices, long-term teacher training programs and professional development programs that require participant teachers to plan and implement argument-based science instruction and discuss their experiences along with observations of student learning are needed. Teachers who have not implemented argument-based science instruction described reasons related to their own experience and expertise (lack of experience, understanding, and teaching skills), students (lack of experience, knowledge, and willingness to participation), and the learning environment (lack of class time, entrance exam-oriented class, and number of students). This study indicates that it is necessary to provide professional development programs to help teachers gain positive experiences of argument-based science instruction and develop pedagogical content knowledge and efficacy in relation to argument-based science instruction so that they are willing to design and implement argument-based science instruction.
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Aeran Choi, Elsun Seung, DaEun Kim, Science Teachers' Views of Argument in Scientific Inquiry and Argument-Based Science Instruction, Research in Science Education volume 51, pages 251–268 (2021)