Patterns vs. Causes and Surveys vs. Experiments: Teaching Scientific Thinking
Abstract The scientific method is a core element of all science. Yet, its different implementations are remarkably diverse, based on the varied concepts and protocols required in each specific instance of science. For experienced scientists, coping with this diversity is second nature: they readily and continually ask tractable questions even outside their expertise, and find the process of forming hypotheses, designing tests, and interpreting results fairly transparent. At the secondary school stage, the scientific method is often introduced as a series of clear steps in a pre-planned lab activity. In between these two stages comes the essential step of abandoning the supports of a step-by-step approach, and instead learning how to work through the scientific method to generate and answer one's own questions. In our experience, this process is rarely taught explicitly. Yet, undergraduate students (even strong students) can have difficulty translating their initial questions into testable hypotheses, and ...