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The Vocabulary of How Science Works: Trainee teachers' understanding of key terminology and ideas on the nature of science

posted on 2023-06-07, 19:46 authored by James Williams
How science works is a vital component of the new KS4 programme of study for GCSE science. The vocabulary of How Science Works, such as what is meant by a theory, law, hypothesis or fact in differs in a science context from everyday definitions of these terms. Do science graduates really understand the nature of science and the special nature of the definitions we should apply to these terms? This research surveyed graduate scientists entering initial teacher training in key stage 2, 3, 4 and post 16 science disciplines. The findings show that there is worrying variance in how science graduates define common scientific terms and argues that for the purposes of teaching national curriculum science, these terms should be qualified by the adjective 'scientific'; i.e. scientific theory, scientific hypothesis etc. In addition a basic understanding of the historical development of 'the scientific method' should be a core element of science education.


Publication status

  • Published

Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

British Educational Research Association Annual Conference

Event location

Institute of Education, University of London, UK

Event type


Event date

5-8 September 2007

Department affiliated with

  • Education Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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