Exploring the changes in students' understanding of the scientific method using word associations
MetadataShow full item record
A study is presented that explores how students' knowledge structures, as related to the scientific method, compare at different student ages. A word association test comprised of ten total stimulus words, among them experiment, science fair, and hypothesis, is used to probe the students' knowledge structures. Students from grades four, five, and eight, as well as first-year college students were tested to reveal their knowledge structures relating to the scientific method. Younger students were found to have a naive view of the science process with little understanding of how science relates to the real world. However, students' conceptions about the scientific process appear to be malleable, with science fairs a potentially strong influencer. The strength of associations between words is observed to change from grade to grade, with younger students placing science fair near the center of their knowledge structure regarding the scientific method, whereas older students conceptualize the scientific method around experiment.