Howitt S & Wilson A (2015) Developing, expressing and contesting opinions of science: encouraging the student voice. Higher Education Research and Development, 34 (3), pp. 541-553. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2014.973382
In a typical science degree, little emphasis is placed on the need for scientists to make judgements about evidence and little value is placed on the development of students' opinions about science, with the focus largely on assessment of declarative knowledge. Yet it is the ability to evaluate evidence that is crucial to the development of the student as a scientist. This study assesses the impact on students' conceptions of science of a course that aims to engage students in discussion and reflection on what scientists do and on their own learning about science. Analysis of written reflective assignments from the three years the course has been run shows that participants become more confident in their expression of opinions about science and also develop a more mature view of science and its inherent uncertainty. It appears that a critical factor enabling this development is the way the course activities are designed to explicitly value students' opinions and to provide a supportive environment in which they can be expressed and contested.
critical thinking; peer learning; reflective practice; STEM education; student learning
Higher Education Research and Development: Volume 34, Issue 3