Understandings of Nature of Science and Multiple Perspective Evaluation of Science News by Non-science Majors
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Understandings of nature of science (NOS) are a core component of scientific literacy, and a scientifically literate populace is expected to be able to critically evaluate science in the media. While evidence has remained inconclusive on whether better NOS understandings will lead to critical evaluation of science in the media, this study aimed at examining the correlation therein. Thirty-eight non-science majors, enrolled in a science course for non-specialists held in a local community college, evaluated three health news articles by rating the extent to which they agreed with the reported claims and providing as many justifications as possible. The majority of the participants were able to evaluate and justify their viewpoint from multiple perspectives. Students’ evaluation was compared with their NOS conceptions, including the social and cultural embedded NOS, the tentative NOS, the peer review process and the community of practice. Results indicated that participants’ understanding of the tentative NOS was significantly correlated with multiple perspective evaluation of science news reports of socioscientific nature (r = 0.434, p < 0.05). This moderate correlation suggested the association between understanding of the tentative NOS and multiple perspective evaluation of science in the media of socioscientific nature. However, the null result for other target NOS aspects in this study suggested a lack of evidence to assume that understanding the social dimensions of science would have significant influence on the evaluation of science in the media. Future research on identifying the reasons for why and why not NOS understandings are applied in the evaluation will move this field forward.
KeywordsScience Education Social Dimension Multiple Perspective News Article Peer Review Process
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