Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 1 (June, 2008)
Ling L. Liang, Sufen Chen, Xian Chen, Osman Nafiz Kaya, April Dean Adams, Monica Macklin and Jazlin Ebenezer
Assessing preservice elementary teachers views on the nature of scientific knowledge: A dual-response instrument

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Conclusions and Implications

In comparison to the existing NOS instruments, SUSSI has several advantages. First, the efficacy of the SUSSI instrument is relatively high because it provides multiple ways for researchers to examine the trustworthiness and authenticity of data, i.e., students first select their responses given in the Likert format and then explain what they actually think about the nature of science and scientific inquiry by providing examples. Current research in learning, teaching, and assessment has repeatedly pointed to the importance of engaging students' pre-conceptions in instruction (National Research Council, 1999, 2001, 2005).  SUSSI can be used as a formative or diagnostic assessment tool to improve student learning by informing educators about their students' thinking and reasoning and guiding teachers instructional decisions. For those who know little about the nature of science and scientific inquiry, their constructed responses in the pre-assessment may be brief or missing. However, transformations of student views as a result of effective instructional interventions will be evident when the student is able to provide valid examples and make consistent claims in a post assessment. Secondly, SUSSI can also be used as a summative assessment tool to measure students' achievement in their understanding of NOS related issues. The quantitative feature of SUSSI allows the use of inferential statistics to determine effects of any instructional interventions in small or large-scale studies.  Moreover, student constructed responses can provide insight into why the findings based on student responses to the Likert items are (or are not) of statistical significance. The dual-response structure of SUSSI enables teachers and/or researchers to assess students' understanding of NOS-related content with increased confidence. Thirdly, most students can complete the SUSSI instrument in about 30 minutes.  While we found that the presence of the Likert statements and associated writing prompts helped students to construct more focused responses related to the target NOS aspects, other researchers may be concerned that the student constructed responses were influenced by their reading of the Likert statements. In our view, such issues become less problematic when the respondents are asked to explain their views with valid examples rather than a simple rephrasing of the Likert statements. Research on learning and assessment has suggested that writing can play a powerful role in student learning. When asked to write about their views of NOS and scientific inquiry, students' understandings of the SUSSI target ideas become explicit.  Students' views of the NOS issues can also serve as class discussion prompts in science instruction. Such explicit approaches have been considered as more effective in fostering the development of "adequate" concepts of the nature of science and scientific inquiry (Adb-El-Khalick & Lederman, 2000a, 2000b), when compared to the effects of a traditional lecture-laboratory approach in science, and/or other implicit approaches that focus on developing process skills without explicit discussion of NOS related issues. 

As pointed out by Lederman (1998), "a functional understanding of the NOS and scientific inquiry by teachers is clearly prerequisite to any hopes of achieving the vision of science teaching and learning specified in the various reform efforts."  In our current study, we have chosen pre-service teachers as target population. Because we believe that the learning and teaching of NOS related issues will be improved only when the schoolteachers demonstrate informed views of the nature of science and scientific inquiry and are able to demonstrate their understandings in action. We suggest that more diverse samples drawn from various populations be used to further validate the SUSSI instrument. Meanwhile, more authentic tools should be adopted to assess whether the teachers are able to translate their understanding of the nature of science and scientific inquiry into learning opportunities for students.


The authors of this paper would like to thank the following individuals for their advice and suggestions related to the SUSSI project: Dr. Glen S. Aikenhead, Dr. Abhijeet S Bardapurkar, Dr. Chorng-Jee Guo, Dr. Michael R. Matthews, Dr. Stefan Samulewicz, Dr. Gultekin Cakmakci, Prof. Alev Dogan, Prof. Bertram Strieb, Prof. Kouzhuang Zhong, and anonymous reviewers.

This material was based upon work supported by La Salle University, the National Science Foundation grant (ESI-0455573) awarded to Northeastern State University, and the National Science Council grant (NSC 952522S011001MY3) awarded to the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of La Salle University, the National Science Foundation, or the National Science Council.

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