An investigation into the nature and consequences of teachers' implicit philosophies of science

  • David R. Dibbs

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The aims of this study were to investigate the beliefs concerning the philosophy of science held by practising science teachers and to relate those beliefs to their pupils' understanding of the philosophy of science. Three philosophies of science, differing in the way they relate experimental work to other parts of the scientific enterprise, are described. By the use of questionnaire techniques, teachers of four extreme types were identified. These are: the H type or hypothetico-deductivist teacher, who sees experiments as potential falsifiers of hypotheses or of logical deductions from them; the I type or inductivist teacher, who regards experiments mainly as a way of increasing the range of observations available for recording before patterns are noted and inductive generalisation is carried out; the V type or verificationist teacher, who expects experiments to provide proof and to demonstrate the truth or accuracy of scientific statements; and the 0 type, who has no discernible philosophical beliefs about the nature of science or its methodology.
    Following interviews of selected teachers to check their responses to the questionnaire and to determine their normal teaching methods, an experiment was organised in which parallel groups were given H, I and V type teaching in the normal school situation during most of one academic year. Using pre-test and post-test scores on a specially developed test of pupil understanding of the philosophy of science, it was shown that pupils were positively affected by their teacher's implied philosophy of science. There was also some indication that V type teaching improved marks obtained in school science examinations, but appeared to discourage the more able from continuing the study of science. Effects were also noted on vocabulary used by pupils to describe scientists and their activities.
    Date of AwardJan 1982
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPeter Coxhead (Supervisor)


    • philosophy of science
    • science education
    • teaching methods
    • science

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