Revisiting the Nature of Science in science education: Towards a holistic account of science in science teaching and learning

Sibel Erduran 1 2 *
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1 University of Limerick, Ireland
2 Boğaziçi University, Turkey
* Corresponding Author
EUROPEAN J SCI MATH ED, Volume 2, Issue 2A, pp. 14-25.
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Nature of Science (NOS) is an area of research in science education that has gained significant attention for several decades. It is a subject that has infiltrated curriculum policy documents, such as the new Next Generation Science Standards in the United States, being promoted in teaching and learning of science at the level of the classroom. Yet the precise definition of NOS is a contested territory. For example, the relationship between NOS and scientific inquiry is not agreed upon. In the last few years, the debate around what counts as NOS has been escalating. The presentation will outline some of the recent debates in the science education research community on NOS and argue that the contemporary accounts are limited in their depictions of science. In particular, it will be argued that the so-called consensus NOS accounts tend to be fragmented and not inclusive of science in its broader sense and context. I will illustrate how, for instance, the notion of “scientific practices” can be used to build up a holistic account of science such that students are equipped with a broad range of understandings and skills about NOS. Based on a theoretical interdisciplinary account, we have developed a model that can be applied in teacher education as well as science teaching and learning. The model infuses the relationships between the various epistemic, cognitive and social features of science: (a) epistemic components, such as scientific activities (such classification, experimentation and observation), data, model, explanation, prediction; (b) cognitive components, such as representations, and reasoning; and (c) social components, such as discourse and social certification of scientific claims. An empirical study funded by TUBITAK-Marie Curie Co-Funded Brain Circulation Fellowship will be described to exemplify how a holistic account of scientific practices was promoted in pre-service science teachers’ learning and what the impact was on teachers’ perceptions of NOS. Some recommendations and implications for science education will be discussed particularly in relation to about how science teacher education programmes can infuse more coherent and holistic accounts of NOS.


Erduran, S. (2014). Revisiting the Nature of Science in science education: Towards a holistic account of science in science teaching and learning. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 2(2A), 14-25.


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