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Science Education

Teaching and learning about the nature of science


An increasingly important theme within science education concerns the place of the nature of science as part of the science curriculum. This has been informed by various scholarship in 'science studies' - especially the history and philosophy of science, but also drawing upon areas such as the psychology of science and the sociology of science. A key concern has been that science education should teach learners 'about' science and not just some science.

A general concern is that learners should understand something of the processes of science so they appreciate how science comes to knowledge, and therefore appreciate the status of scientific knowledge and how science is influenced by and contributes to the wider society. A particular issue of wide concern in science education is how students learn about the nature of scientific enquiry.


The relationship between science and religion

One area of increasing concern for science education is how people understand science to relate to religion. Scientists themselves do not always agree on this - with some scientists arguing that science should be incompatible with any belief in the supernatural, whilst other scientists manage to remain devoutly religious (across a range of religions) without experiencing any conflict. Science itself concerns the natural world and by definition has nothing to say about the supernatural (e.g. God). However learners may not appreciate this given the high profile campaigns of some atheistic scientists and the very public rejection of evolution (and so the teaching of natural selection) by some religious groups.

There is therefore an issue of major importance for science education concerning howl young people can be supported in coming to appreciate the diversity of views about 'the' relationship between science and religion and recognising that becoming a scientists need not involve rejecting religion, and that being religious need not of itself be a barrier to scientific interests or careers. Dr Keith S Taber has worked on this issue in the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) Project under the auspices of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in association with Prof. Berry Billingsley at Reading University.


Scholarship on teaching and learning about the nature of science

Dr Taber has written on a number of themes related to the nature of science. Some key publications are:

  • Taber, K. S. (2017). Reflecting the nature of science in science education. In K. S. Taber & B. Akpan (Eds.), Science Education: An International Course Companion (pp. 23-37). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. 
  • Taber, K. S., Ruthven, K., Howe, C., Mercer, N., Riga, F., Hofmann, R., & Luthman, S. (2015). Developing a research-informed teaching module for learning about electrical circuits at lower secondary school level: supporting personal learning about science and the nature of science. In E. de Silva (Ed.), Cases on Research-Based Teaching Methods in Science Education (pp. 122-156). Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global.
  • Taber, K. S. (2012). Teaching and learning about the nature of science. In J. Oversby (Ed.), ASE Guide to Research in Science Education (pp. 18-28). Hatfield, Hertfordshire: Association for Science Education.
  • aber, K. S. (2011). The natures of scientific thinking: creativity as the handmaiden to logic in the development of public and personal knowledge. In M. S. Khine (Ed.), Advances in the Nature of Science Research - Concepts and Methodologies (pp. 51-74). Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Taber, K. S. (2011). Patterns in nature: challenging secondary students to learn about physical laws. Physics Education, 46(1), 80-89.
  • Taber, K. S. (2010). A comprehensive vision of 'the nature of science' in science education. Studies in Science Education, 46(2), 245-254.
  • Taber, K. S. (2009). Progressing the Constructivist Research Programme to Advance Teaching and Learning about the Nature of Science. In I. M. Saleh & M. S. Khine (Eds.), Fostering Scientific Habits of Mind: Pedagogical Knowledge and Best Practices in Science Education. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers, pp.37-57.
  • Taber, K. S. (2006) Towards a curricular model of the nature of science, Science & Education.
  • Taber, K. S. (2006) Exploring pupils’ understanding of key ‘nature of science’ terms though research as part of initial teacher education, School Science Review, June 2006, 87 (321), pp.51-61.
  • Taber, K. S., Cooke, V. M., de Trafford, T., Lowe, T. J., Millins, S. & Quail, T. (2006) Learning to teach about ideas and evidence in science: experiences of teachers in training, School Science Review, June 2006, 87 (321), pp.63-73.
  • Taber, K. S. & Riga, F. (2006) Lessons from the ASCEND project: able pupils’ responses to an enrichment programme exploring the nature of science, School Science Review, June 2006, 87 (321), pp.97-106.


Scholarship on teaching and learning about the nature of science and religion

Writing relating to the particular issue of 'science and religion' within science education include:

  • Taber, K. S. (2017). Beliefs and science education. In K. S. Taber & B. Akpan (Eds.), Science Education: An International Course Companion (pp. 53-67). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. 
  • Billingsley, B., Riga, F., Taber, K. S., & Newdick, H. (2014). Secondary school teachers' perspectives on teaching about topics that bridge science and religion. The Curriculum Journal, 25(3), 372-395.
  • Taber, K. S. (2013). Conceptual frameworks, metaphysical commitments and worldviews: the challenge of reflecting the relationships between science and religion in science education. In N. Mansour & R. Wegerif (Eds.), Science Education for Diversity: Theory and practice (pp. 151-177). Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Taber, K. S., Billingsley, B., Riga, F., & Newdick, H. (2011). Secondary students’ responses to perceptions of the relationship between science and religion: stances identified from an interview study. Science Education, 95(6), 1000-1025.
  • Taber, K. S., Billingsley, B., Riga, F., & Newdick, H. (2011). To what extent do pupils perceive science to be inconsistent with religious faith? An exploratory survey of 13-14 year-old English pupils. Science Education International, 22(2), 99-118.
  • Taber, K. S., Billingsley, B., & Riga, F. (2010). How should science teachers respond to the 'science and religion' debate? Education in Science (236), 20-21.

(See a more comprehensive list of Dr Taber's writing)