Exploring high school students' views regarding the nature of scientific theory: A study in Taiwan

Wen, M. L.
Kuo, P. C.
Chang, C. Y.
Tsai, C. C.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The purpose of this study was to explore high school students' views regarding the nature scientific theory via a context of competing theories for the extinction of dinosaurs. It is believed that views regarding the nature of scientific theory are closely related to personal epistemologies toward science. A questionnaire with four open-ended questions was designed to investigate students' views about some aspects of the nature of scientific theory. The results of analyzing written responses from 621 Taiwanese high school students indicated that more than 60% the students understood that scientific theories were subject to change when new observations or interpretations were found. In responding to the reason for having two theories explaining the extinction of dinosaurs, many students were able to recognize the insufficiency of evidence for both theories, indicating that the students understood that science was empirical-based. This study also found that almost all the students held the concept that "science is theoryladen." We believed that during the processes of responding to the questions designed for study, students underwent reflective-thinking processes through the controversial context provided by the study, thus expressing the idea that "science is theory-laden." Gender and subject preference were also included in this study. The results suggest that both factors play significant roles in the particular theory the students supported.