Preservice Teachers’ Views of the “Social Embeddedness” Tenet of the Nature of Science: A New Method of Analysis

Publication Name

Journal of Science Teacher Education


It is generally accepted that a robust science education includes knowledge of science, as well as knowledge about science, or, in other words, an understanding of the “Nature of Science.” However, debates around what Nature of Science is and how to measure it are far from settled, and this compromises our ability to support teachers and students develop their understanding in this area. In this paper, two approaches assessing one aspect of the Nature of Science, the degree to which is it “socially embedded,” are compared. The VNOS-C was administered to a cohort of pre-service secondary science teachers and analyzed using the traditional approach as well as a new approach, using “Specialization” from a framework known as Legitimation Code Theory. The results from the standard analytical approach revealed that preservice teachers’ ideas were overwhelmingly Naïve or Mixed, and that these did not change over the course of the semester. However, there was insufficient discrimination between students’ ideas, particularly those in the Mixed category. The new approach was able to capture more of the nuances in preservice teachers’ responses. The potential of the new approach will be discussed in terms of its utility for understanding Nature of Science theory and improving assessment in relation to the “social embeddedness” tenet.



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