The naturalistic approach suggests that a methodological principle should be evaluated on how useful it is in practice in giving rise to appropriate empirical and theoretical propositions. Recently, significant findings have been produced by psychologists investigating how science is actually practiced by working scientists in laboratory settings see, e. As one example, Dunbar has performed extensive cognitive analyses of laboratory meetings of scientists and has identified key components of scientific thinking that are important in generating new models, modifying old models, and solving difficult problems.
These components include analogical reasoning, attention to unexpected findings, experimental design, and distributed reasoning among the group of scientists.
Consider two widely accepted methodological principles that teachers might employ to demonstrate that methodological principles that seem intuitively reasonable may be false empirically. Contrary to Popper, however, a variety of philosophy of science sources indicate that a in practice scientists do not have the primary goal of attempting to falsify their hypotheses, b science would be poorer if scientists routinely rejected falsified hypotheses without further effort to rescue them, and, in any case, c all theories are already falsified in one or another respect e. Popper provides an extreme example of a philosopher of science who emphasizes how science should be practiced as opposed to the view of naturalism, which attempts to determine how science is actually practiced.
As a second example of the inadequacies of the foundational approach, Kuhn demonstrated that the widely accepted methodological principle that successor theories should explain all that displaced theories explain, plus a variety of new phenomena, has never been observed in practice. Kuhn concluded on the basis of historical evidence that if that methodological principle were observed, no new theory would have ever been introduced in science. This certainly applies in psychology to such movements as behaviorism that, when introduced, were not able to explain many of the phenomena which their rival theories successfully dealt with.
Historical evidence on this point is available in several sources, including Kuhn , Donovan, Laudan, and Laudan , and any standard text on the history of psychology. We cite two of many possible relevant examples.
The first is the contemporary debate over the merits of statistical null hypothesis significance testing. This approach, still widely used, has been roundly criticized by a number of statistical methodologists because it is has certain logical problems.
However, Krueger suggests that it is proper to employ null hypothesis testing, despite its logical problems, because it is useful in practice. As a second example, Kuhn has shown that scientists are reluctant to abandon a paradigm that is problematic until it is replaced by a better one.
In other words, the point that needs to be conveyed is that methodological and theoretical decisions in science are based on pragmatic considerations. Most notably, one attempts to select the best of the available alternatives. This approach, which itself is a methodological principle, applies to both empirical and theoretical propositions. To be more specific, it appears that scientists, regardless of field, are reluctant to abandon a theory, and generally will not do so, on the basis of criticism of the theory itself, even if that criticism is accepted as valid.
What seems to be required in addition is the availability of a better alternative. Kuhn put this succinctly, stating that scientists never abandon a paradigm, whatever its problems, until a better one is available. This generalization applies to decisions at any level of science, and the important point to convey to students is that criticism alone is not sufficient to nullify theories and methods.
The considerable virtues of hypothesis testing, which are emphasized in methodology texts, hardly need emphasizing here. What needs to be recognized is that hypothesis testing, as valuable as it otherwise is, has several limitations. Students should be informed that it is exceedingly easy to falsify hypotheses in the beginning stages of a research program. They should also become acquainted with the well-known Duhem-Quine thesis, that failure to confirm a hypothesis may be due to a number of factors other than deficiencies in the hypothesis see Chalmers, Among the problems are: the apparatus may have malfunctioned, the deduction from the hypothesis may be faulty, and a minor change in some auxiliary assumption might bring the hypothesis into line with experimental results.
An example of rejecting a theory because of a faulty deduction from its premises is available from the psychology of color vision. Subsequent evidence revealed that these properties were exhibited by neurons in the visual system. Introducing auxiliary hypotheses is almost universally portrayed as a flawed strategy, one that seeks in a more or less self-serving manner to avoid disconfirmation of a pet hypothesis. Yet, as Laudan emphasizes, the introduction of an auxiliary hypothesis that both rescues a theory and increases its explanatory and predictive power is a difficult task, but one that is very often extremely valuable scientifically.
Examples of auxiliary hypotheses from physics having both of these characteristics are discussed at some length by Chalmers and Lakatos Within psychology, two examples of auxiliary hypotheses, which not only rescued the theory but improved it, are as follows. The Rescorla-Wagner model, which was originally suggested to deal with classical conditioning, was subsequently extended to apply to human and animal causal learning.
Van Hamme and Wasserman introduced auxiliary hypotheses that allowed that model to be applied to a broader range of causal phenomena, without changing the fundamental character of the model. This modification allowed the theory to accommodate evidence that meaning of unattended messages sometimes influences performance, without modifying the basic nature of the theory. The methods given short shrift in current methodology texts include:. Regarding promise, Watson indicated that the evidence for behaviorism was no stronger than for structuralism, but he recommended behaviorism on the basis of its greater promise.
This recommendation obviously was accepted within the U. The tendency to accept theories on the basis of their promise exists not only in psychology but in science generally. For example, Kuhn showed that scientists from a variety of areas often accept theories on the basis of their promise. Greene emphasizes importance in his recent interesting book on string theory, in which he gives numerous instances of theories in physics that when originally suggested seemed far-fetched and improbable, but continued to engage scientists because of their potential importance.
This activity ultimately proved scientifically rewarding in several instances in the case of development of atomism from Democritus to Dalton. As regards explanatory theories, there were many such theories in science that were originally proposed on the basis of their explanatory capacity that initially did not entail novel predictions but turned out to be highly useful predictive devices.
Because methodological statements are empirical statements, it should be expected that they are in a constant state of evolution. After all, science itself, as a clearly recognized activity, is relatively recent. As shown above, some methods important to science at one point in time, for example, induction, are seen as less important at other times.
As a final dramatic example, it is not inconceivable that the role of hypothesis testing, considered to be of utmost importance today, may decline in influence in the future due to the discovery of a rival, more adequate methodological procedure. It seems useful to provide students with specific examples case histories and the like of how particular scientists went about solving significant empirical and theoretical problems. That approach would seem to be as useful with respect to particular subject matter problems as to methodological principles. Similarly, student grades in a large general chemistry lecture course do not correlate with the lecturing skills and experience of the instructor Birk and Foster, Despite the limitations of traditional lectures, many institutions are forced to offer high-enrollment introductory science courses.
Many professors who teach these courses feel that lecturing is their only option, and can only dream of what they could accomplish in smaller classes. However, there is a small but growing group of science faculty members who have developed ways to engage students in the process of thinking, questioning, and problem solving despite the large class size. Strategies in use in introductory courses in biology and geology are described in the sidebars.
Although many of the methods described in these sidebars are consistent with what experts know about how students learn see Chapter 3 , they may not be welcomed by all of the students in a class. There are several ways to help students make the transition from passive listeners to active participants in their own learning Orzechowksi, :. One important tool I use to engage students is to create opportunities for thought and for active pursuit of an unknown during the class session.
If I give a lecture for which I provide notes-a common practice-I always leave blanks in critical parts of the notes.
On the board or transparency, I indicate the unknown. I pause while I talk about it, drawing the students' attention to the hole in the notes. If possible, I ask for suggested answers or for a vote among the possibilities. By arranging the pause in your lecture you can give the students the chance to puzzle out the question themselves and to preview their ability to work on the questions independently. And only by attending class can a student gain all the information-an important draw to encourage class attendance.
In teaching formal genetics, I draw out a genetic cross first in general form in this example, a Drosophila eye color inheritance test :. Then I put into the lecture notes-a completely blank Punnett square to show the structure of the approach-but not to provide the answer. The students encounter this as an unknown, because I address the contents of each line, and each box, as a question.
Everybody, consult with your neighbor for a minute-now second row, anybody tell me, what should be in these two blanks at the top? What would be the genotype and phenotype for the bottom right box? I show examples of geology from my own experiences, and occasionally include a few funny slides or video or audio clips to lighten things up. I use a multimedia presentation system composed of a vertical camera above an illuminated table on which I write or place rocks, examples from the book, or anything else I want the students to see.
The video signal is projected on a screen in the classroom. This form of presentation has worked well and definitely has improved students' access to the material by making things more visible. Along with the presentation system, I use a laser disc containing movies and photographs from a textbook publisher. I can easily switch from multimedia to laser disc output and thus weave visual examples into my lecture. Occasionally, I show the students computer files or video from a VHS player.
The students react well to this multimedia approach, but to involve the students I have them do a short exercise in groups, then we talk about it. For these, I walk up the side of the auditorium and designate even and odd rows. Then I say that the even people should turn around and face the odd people and do the exercise together. This generates groups of people.
They all put their names onto the single sheet they are to turn in. Then the students work together on a question for minutes. I walk around the room, answering their questions. When time is up, the TA stands at the overhead projector, and I walk through the crowd I have a lapel mike so they can hear me , collecting their answers for each question. Then we talk about solutions. Usually the time runs out, and the students turn their papers.
Of course, they get credit for their participation, and that provides some motivation, but I am sure students understand the concepts better than if they were presented only in my lecture. This process engages the students. Of course the hub-bub grows as the students move from the assigned topic to other conversations, but they come back fairly quickly.
It is a bit unnerving because there is the potential for loss of control in the class, but the students seem to either like it or are indifferent, but certainly aren't quite as passive as they are while being lectured at. Anticipate students' anxiety, and be prepared to provide support and encouragement as they adapt to your expectations. Discuss your approach with colleagues, especially if you are teaching a well-established course in a pre-professional curriculum.
When lecturing is the chosen or necessary teaching method, one way to keep students engaged is to pause periodically to assess student understanding or to initiate short student discussions see sidebars. Calling on individual students to answer questions or offer comments can also hold student attention; however, some students prefer a feedback method with more anonymity. If they have an opportunity to discuss a question in small groups, the group can offer an answer, which removes any one student from the spotlight.
Another option is to have students write their answer on an index card, and pass the card to the end of the row; the student seated there can select one answer to present, without disclosing whose it is. The literature on teaching and learning contains other examples of techniques to maintain students' attention in a lecture setting Eble, ; Davis, ; Lowman, ; McKeachie, :. Avoid direct repetition of material in a textbook so that it remains a useful alternative resource.
Adopt a reasonable and adjustable pace that balances content coverage and student understanding. Consider using slides, videos, films, CD-ROMs, and computer simulations to enhance presentations, but remember that:. Students need time to summarize their observations and to draw and note conclusions. At the beginning of a course, discuss with your students several strategies for effectively engaging in and learning from your classes.
Some may just listen, others will take notes, and still others may try to transcribe your words. Some students may want to tape the class session. If you want to encourage a particular form of student participation, make clear your expectations, the reasons for them, and how students' learning will benefit. Whether in lecture, discussion sections, laboratories, or individual encounters, questioning is an important part of guiding students' learning.
When students ask questions, they are often seeking to shortcut the learning process by getting the right answer from an authority figure. However, it is the processes of arriving at an answer and assessing the validity of an answer that are usually more important, particularly if the student can apply these processes to the next question.
Both of these processes are obscured if the teacher simply gives the requested answer. Often, the Socratic method-meeting a student's question with another perhaps leading question-forces students while often frustrating them to offer possible answers, supporting reasons, and assessments. In fact, posing questions can be an effective teaching technique. Here are some tips for the effective use of questions:.
Wait long enough to indicate that you expect students to think before answering. Some students know that if they are silent the professor will give the answer Rowe, Solicit alternative answers or elaboration to provide material for comparison, contrast, and assessment.
Solicit additional responses from the same students with a leading question or follow-up observation. Direct the ensuing discussion to the comparison, evaluation, and extension of the offered answers rather than simple validation or refutation of right and wrong answers.
Even a small-scale demonstration can work in a large class if it uses an everyday object that students recognize, and especially if it is something the students can find and use on their own. My favorite example is to use a telephone cord to demonstrate supercoiling of DNA. The phone cord has its own intrinsic helicity, as does DNA, though usually phone cords are left handed whereas DNA is most often discussed in its right handed B form. Who doesn't have the experience of having the coiled headset cord of a telephone show supercoils twists around itself?
This presents the students with the chance to play at home, where they can convince themselves that the direction handedness of the supercoils depends on the direction of the original helix, and on whether the cord was underwound or overwound before the headset was replaced constraining the ends. Students learn both an important principle for understanding nucleic acids and a handy practical tip that lets them predict the easiest way to get the kinks out of the phone cord! They get the chance to test their understanding by making predictions and doing trials-exactly what one hopes for in active scientific learning.
A professor's questions should build confidence rather than induce fear. One technique is to encourage the student to propose several different answers to the question. The student can then be encouraged to step outside the answers and begin to develop the skills necessary to assess the answers. Some questions seek facts and simply measure student recall; others demand higher reasoning skills such as elaborating on or explaining a concept, comparing and contrasting several possibilities, speculating about an outcome, and speculating about cause and effect.
The type of question asked and the response given to students' initial answers are crucial to the types of reasoning processes the students are encouraged to use.
Forgot your username? How do the best teachers teach science? I can easily switch from multimedia to laser disc output and thus weave visual examples into my lecture. In courses with small enrollments, they can substitute for the lecture, or both lecture and discussion formats can be used in the same class period. We also put skills in context—giving students just enough content to allow them to practice skills. In our opinion, this is a high figure.
Several aspects of questions to formulate them, what reasoning or knowledge is tested or encouraged, how to deal with answers-similar for dialogue and for testing. Chapters 5 and 6 contain more information on questions as part of assessment, testing, and grading. Demonstrations can be very effective for illustrating concepts in class, but can result in passive learning without careful attention to engaging students.
They can provoke students to think for themselves and are especially helpful if the demonstration has a surprise, challenges an assumption, or illustrates an otherwise abstract concept or mechanism. Demonstrations that use everyday objects are especially effective and require little preparation on the part of faculty see sidebar. Students' interest is peaked if they are asked to make predictions and vote on the most probable outcome. There are numerous resources available to help faculty design and conduct demonstrations.
Many science education periodicals contain one or more demonstrations in each issue. The American Chemical Society and the University of Wisconsin Press have published excellent books on chemical demonstrations Shakhashiri, , , , ; Summerlin and Ealy, ; Summerlin et al. Similar volumes of physics demonstrations have been published by the American Association of Physics Teachers Freier and Anderson, ; Berry, You should consider a number of issues when planning a demonstration O'Brien, :.
Which of the many demonstrations on the selected topic will generate the greatest enhancement in student learning? What design would be most effective, given the materials at hand and the target audience? What questions will be appropriate to motivate and direct student observation and thought processes before, during, and after the demonstration? What follow-up questions can be used to test and stretch students' understanding of the new concept? If the classroom or lecture hall is large, consider whether students in the back will be able to see your demonstration.
Look into videotaping the demonstration and projecting the image on a larger screen so that all of your students can see. Small group discussion sections often are used in large-enrollment courses to complement the lectures. In courses with small enrollments, they can substitute for the lecture, or both lecture and discussion formats can be used in the same class period.
The main distinction between lecture and discussion is the level of student participation that is expected, and a whole continuum exists. Discussions can be instructor-centered students answer the instructor's questions or student-centered students address one another, and the instructor mainly guides the discussion toward important points. In any case, discussion sessions are more productive when students are expected to prepare in advance.
Focused discussion is an effective way for many students to develop their conceptual frameworks and to learn problem solving skills as they try out their own ideas on other students and the instructor. The give and take of technical discussion also sharpens critical and quantitative thinking skills. Classes in which students must participate in discussion force them to go beyond merely plugging numbers into formulas or memorizing terms. They must learn to explain in their own words what they are thinking and doing. Students are more motivated to prepare for a class in which they are expected to participate actively.
However, student-centered discussions are less predictable than instructor-centered presentations, they are more time consuming, and they can require more skill from the teacher. To lead an effective discussion, the teacher must be a good facilitator, by ensuring that key points are covered and monitoring the group dynamics. Guidance is needed to keep the discussion from becoming disorganized or irrelevant.
Some students do not like or may not function effectively in a class where much of the time is devoted to student discussion. A number of different teaching techniques have emerged due to this change in education. Outlined below are some popular teaching techniques that have arisen from the integration of technology in education.
The Flipped Classroom Model basically involves encouraging students to prepare for the lesson before class. Thus, the class becomes a dynamic environment in which students elaborate on what they have already studied. Students prepare a topic at home so that the class the next day can be devoted to answering any questions they have about the topic.
This allows students to go beyond their normal boundaries and explore their natural curiosity.
Using GoConqr, you can easily share resources with a group, in this case a class, allowing students to study these resources from home and prepare for the next class. This technique is based on resolving real-life cases through group analysis, brainstorming, innovation and creative ideas. However, the Case Method prepares students for the real world and arouses their curiosity, analytical skills and creativity. This technique is often used in popular MBA or Masters classes to analyze real cases experienced by companies in the past.
Design Thinking for Educators also provides teachers with an online toolkit with instructions to explore Design Thinking in any classroom. Click here to download the free toolkit now. Curiosity is the main driver of learning.