Super-Quick Update to Refutation Texts

Brilliant ASE conference! Loads of curriculum thinking. Disciplinary and substantive knowledge very important (see Counsell here).

Charles Tracey (@physicsnews) suggested the use of ‘practice’ to describe the practices of scientists, including how scientists decide on what counts as evidence and knowledge. Disciplinary knowledge is all about our ‘practice.’

Charles suggested that writing explanations should include disciplinary knowledge as well as the more usual substantive knowledge. When another colleague mentioned misconceptions, I thought I’d make an addition to my refutation text post (here). My addition is to add to the refutation text a sentence explain how we know. So…

  1. State the misconception.
  2. Explicitly say that this is not correct.
  3. State the accepted scientific viewpoint.
  4. Explain why it is accepted

I use sentence starters to reduce cognitive load (I’m interested in adding knowledge to a misconception):

  1. Many people believe …..
  2. However, …..
  3. Most scientists state that ….
  4. We believe this because….

For example:

Many people believe that when you touch a metal doorknob, coldness moves from the metal into your hand. However, cold does not move. Most scientists state that it is heat moving from your hand into the metal that makes it feel cold.  We believe this because our explanation of heat describes ‘coldness’ as a lack of heat energy. 

In short: add a little bit of disciplinary knowledge into every piece of science writing.


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