Scientific reasoning

TEACHER: Ard Lazonder

When you are reading this piece of text, you are probably preparing yourself for your thesis project. This means you will soon be doing scientific research, but did you know that the actual preparation for your thesis research started already in elementary school? Think back to the time you were still a child. You probably engaged in some hands-on experiments, aiming for instance, to find out which objects float and sink, how magnets work, or how you could program a Lego car. And when in high school, you must have conducted some experiments in the physics and chemistry lab. These experiences have laid the foundation for the research skills you possess today as well as your ability to reason scientifically. An important question therefore is how scientific reasoning skills develop, and how this development can best be supported in school settings, either with or without the help of ICT. These two broad themes of “development” and “instructional support” can be studied in various ways and from different perspectives.

If you are interested in (trajectories of) development, you could focus on the following topics:

  • How do scientific reasoning skills develop from grade 6 to grade 8 (and beyond)?
  • How do children, teenagers, and adolescents make sense of computer models?
  • How can scientific reasoning be measured in an efficient and valid way?

If you are passionate about instructional design and support, you could consider::

  • How can children’s misconceptions about science topics (e.g., heavy objects fall faster) best be corrected?
  • How can the instructional method of ‘productive failure’ be made effective for children’s science learning?
  • Do children, teenagers, and adolescents benefit to the same extent from a particular type of instructional support?
  • How can instructional support help to transfer scientific reasoning skills across tasks and settings?