Education

What a (scientific) argument is not

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Science  04 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6312, pp. 594-595
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6312.594-f

Engaging in arguments based on evidence is a practice found in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education frameworks. Are students being taught to argue evidence in the same way that professional scientists do? MacPherson interviewed 10 ecologists about arguments both current and ongoing in their field. These data were compared to ecological arguments portrayed in assessment tasks written for middle and high school science students. Ecologists discussed causal claims, whereas school science tasks instead focused on descriptive and prescriptive claims. This mismatch results in students not receiving an accurate picture of how professional ecologists argue. How can the STEM education community move forward with designing tasks that ask students to critique evidence in a truly scientific way?

Sci. Ed. 10.1002/sce.21246 (2016).

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