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M. Chrzanowski, B. Ostrowska

Educational Research Institute (POLAND)
It is extremely important to understand that despite the inherent tentativeness or uncertainty of scientific explanations (and perhaps to a lesser extent, descriptive "facts") SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE IS THE MOST RELIABLE KNOWLEDGE we can have about the NATURAL world and how it works. This is because scientists have developed a methodology for learning based on principles of CRITICAL THINKING that can enhance or increase greatly the reliability of scientific knowledge [1]. The Nature of Science (NOS) is an overarching theme in science courses. It provides a comprehensive account of the nature of science in the 21st century. One of the general big question in the theory of knowledge (TOK) is How do we distinguish science from pseudoscience? To distinguish scientific facts and from pseudoscientific theories student has to be skillful in science education and scientific literacy. The main aim of the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) study is to measure students’ literacy in different areas such as: reading, mathematics and science.

Elements of science literacy can be studied in a variety of ways, using sophisticated measuring equipment, conducting conversations within verbal probing technique (cognitive laboratory assessment), as well as using diverse cognitive test items, both open and closed ended.

As part of the International PISA Survey as well as the Polish Laboratory of Thinking Study (LM), many cognitive test items have been prepared to check understanding of the experimental design (design of experiments or DOE, DOX), scientific method and the interpretation of data from experiments. In our study four items dedicated to above mentioned problems were selected, two from the PISA study and two from the LM study. An in-depth analysis of the students' responses was carried out, paying particular attention to not completely correct answers (in case of open-ended tasks) and incorrect answers (in the case of closed-ended tasks).

Possible causes for incorrect selection or incorrect students’ answers will be presented. A special attention was paid to answers with simplifying the research questions as well as drawing naïve, incompatible or non-reasonable conclusions from experimental data.

[1] Nickels, M. (1998) The Nature Of Modern Science & Scientific Knowledge, Anthropology Program, Illinois State University