Vorstellungen Naturwissenschaftsstudierender von Nature of Science mit besonderem Fokus auf den Aspekt Experimente 
Christoph Weberndorfer

The importance of science and technology in today’s society seems beyond  controversy. However, a society which is extensively influenced by science and its accomplishments also requires members with a scientific education. This enables them to act responsibly and make informed judgments (Gräber & Nentwig, 2002; Lembens & Rehm, 2010). Many experts agree that scientific literacy is more than sheer factual knowledge. It also includes the awareness of general characteristics and limitations of science (Abd-El-Khalick, 2004; Gräber & Nentwig, 2002; Fischer, 1998; Lembens & Rehm, 2010). Hence, scientific literacy implies the issue of nature of science and should as well be discussed in school education. Creating an environment which fosters the learning of subject content as well as aspects of nature of science is, however, an ambitious challenge. Scientists argue that epistemological beliefs of teachers are reflected in the way they plan their lessons (Akerson & Volrich, 2006; Hofer, 2001). It is therefore of considerable importance that science teachers are aware of their individual conceptions of nature of science and get the opportunity to reflect and develop these during university education. The investigation of science students’ views of nature of science allows to draw possible conclusions about the current university science education. In this context the diploma thesis focuses on students’ ideas of nature of science with respect to scientific experiments. On the one hand, it investigates students’ views on specific aspects as experimental aims and the role of control and manipulation, prior expectations and creativity in experiments. On the other hand, the influence of different variables, like subject combinations, duration of study, age or gender is evaluated.

In order to survey the experimental aspects of nature of science views of science students at the University of Vienna an online questionnaire has been used, which was based on the VNOS-C (Views of Nature of Science Questionnaire – Form C) questionnaire developed by Abd-El-Khalick (2004). The  structured, qualitative  content  analysis  proposed  by Mayring (2007) and the  software  MAXQDA  have been used to  analyze the  obtained results. The analysis shows that a considerable amount of students have inadequate beliefs about experimental aspects of nature of science. The comparison of the results with respect to different variables indicates that the high ratio of students with  naive views is independent of age, gender and various subject combinations. It shows, however, that the ratio of students with informed conceptions of nature of science increases with the duration of study. Moreover, the analysis indicates that a higher percentage of chemistry students hold naive views about experimental aspects of nature of science compared to biology or physic students. The obtained results give rise to the assumption  that the curricula of scientific subjects have a considerable influence on the  students’ views of nature of science and represent the basis for further investigations.

 Diplomarbeit (.pdf)