Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Science & Education 17 (2008), pp 219–248. DOI: 10.1007/s11191-006-9009-y


Copyright © Springer 2006. Used by permission.


This investigation delineates a multi-year action research agenda designed to develop an instructional model for teaching the nature of science (NOS) to preservice science teachers. Our past research strongly supports the use of explicit reflective instructional methods, which includes Thomas Kuhn’s notion of learning by ostention and treating science as a continuum (i.e., comparing fields of study to one another for relative placement as less to more scientific). Instruction based on conceptual change precepts, however, also exhibits promise. Thus, the investigators sought to ascertain the degree to which conceptual change took place among students (n=15) participating in the NOS instructional model. Three case studies are presented to illustrate successful conceptual changes that took place as a result of the NOS instructional model. All three cases represent students who claim a very conservative Christian heritage and for whom evolution was not considered a legitimate scientific theory prior to participating in the NOS instructional model. All three case study individuals, along with their twelve classmates, placed evolution as most scientific when compared to intelligent design and a fictional field of study called “Umbrellaology.”