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

Previous Contents

Appendix B

Taxonomy of Views about Nature of Science and Scientific Inquiry

(NSTA, 2000; AAAS, 1993; Lederman, Abd-El-Khalick, Bell, & Schwartz, 2002)




Observations and Inferences

Science is based on both observations and inferences. Observations are descriptive statements about natural phenomena that are directly accessible to human senses (or extensions of those senses) and about which observers can reach consensus with relative ease. Inferences are interpretations of those observations. Perspectives of current science and the scientist guide both observations and inferences. Multiple perspectives contribute to valid multiple interpretations of observations.

1A (+); 1B (-); 1C (-); 1D (+)


Scientific knowledge is both tentative and durable.  Having confidence in scientific knowledge is reasonable while realizing that such knowledge may be abandoned or modified in light of new evidence or reconceptualization of prior evidence and knowledge. The history of science reveals both evolutionary and revolutionary changes.

2A (+); 2B (+); 2C(+); 2D (-)

Scientific theories and laws

Both scientific laws and theories are subject to change. Scientific laws describe generalized relationships, observed or perceived, of natural phenomena under certain conditions. Scientific Theories are well-substantiated explanations of some aspect of the natural world. Theories do not become laws even with additional evidence; they explain laws. However, not all scientific laws have accompanying explanatory theories.

3A (-); 3B (-);  3C (-); 3D (+)

Social and cultural embeddedness

Scientific knowledge aims to be general and universal.  As a human endeavor, science is influenced by the society and culture in which it is practiced. Cultural values and expectations determine what and how science is conducted, interpreted, and accepted.

4A (-); 4B(+); 4C(+);  4D(-)

Creativity and Imagination

Science is a blend of logic and imagination. Scientific concepts do not emerge automatically from data or from any amount of analysis alone. Inventing hypotheses or theories to imagine how the world works and then figuring out how they can be put to the test of reality is as creative as writing poetry, composing music, or designing skyscrapers. Scientists use their imagination and creativity throughout their scientific investigations.

5A(+); 5B(+); 5C (-); 5D (-)

Scientific methods

Scientists conduct investigations for a wide variety of reasons. Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations. Different scientific domains employ different methods, core theories, and standards to advance scientific knowledge and understanding. There is no single universal step-by-step scientific method that all scientists follow.  Scientists investigate research questions with prior knowledge, perseverance, and creativity. Scientific knowledge is gained in a variety of ways including observation, analysis, speculation, library investigation and experimentation.

6A (+);  6B (-); 6C (-);  6D (+)

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