Exploring South African high school teachers' conceptions of the nature of the scientific inquiry: a case study
Dudu, Washington Takawira
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The paper explores conceptions of the nature of scientific inquiry (NOSI) held by five teachers who were purposively and conveniently sampled. Teachers’ conceptions of the NOSI were determined using a Probes questionnaire. To confirm teachers’ responses, a semi-structured interview was conducted with each teacher. The Probes questionnaire was based on six tenets of the nature of scientific inquiry but only three tenets are presented in this paper, namely: (1) scientists use a variety of methods to conduct scientific investigations; (2) scientific knowledge is socially and culturally embedded; and (3) scientific knowledge is partly the product of human creativity and imagination. The study found that the teachers held mixed NOSI conceptions. These conceptions were fluid and lacked coherence, ranging from static, empiricist-aligned to dynamic, constructivist-oriented conceptions. Although all participants expressed some views that were consistent with current, acceptable conceptions of NOSI, some held inadequate (naïve) views on the crucial three NOSI tenets. The significance of this study rests in recom- mending explicit teaching of NOSI during pre-service and in-service training which enables teachers to possess informed conceptions about NOSI. With these informed conceptions, teachers may internalise the instructional importance of the NOSI which, in turn, may help avoid the lack of attention to NOSI currently evidenced in teachers’ instructional decisions. This might result in teachers’ orientations shifting towards an explicit inquiry-based approach from that of an implicit science process and discovery approach.
- Faculty of Education 
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