The Nature of Science in Science Education: An Introduction

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After providing a definition of the nature of science (NOS) for science education, we argue that a pragmatic consensus exists regarding NOS topics most important for a scientifically literate society. Hence, NOS instruction should take a more prominent role in the science curriculum. While the relationship between a teacher's NOS knowledge and their pedagogical decision-making is not straight- forward, we maintain that a complex interplay does exist. While more science coursework and research experience have been suggested to improve science teachers' understanding of NOS, neither approach is empirically supported. However, explicit attempts at NOS instruction in science teacher education have been effective. This article, which is an abridged version of one appearing in McComas (1998), concludes with the suggestion of a desired state for NOS instruction.

Hence, it is vital that science teachers and their students gain an understanding of the nature of science, a hybrid field blending aspects of various social studies of science such as the history, sociology and philosophy of science with research from the cognitive science into a rich and useful description of what science is and how it functions.

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