Student understanding of the nature of science (NOS) improves in response to focused reflection about its aspects—an explicit, reflective (ER) pedagogy. However, whether this approach is effective within the two most common instructional models of undergraduate science laboratories—expository, which confirms predetermined outcomes, and inquiry, which is student driven and involves undetermined outcomes—is unknown. We manipulated underlying pedagogy (expository or inquiry based) and NOS treatment (ER or no ER) randomly across 31 sections of an introductory biology laboratory (n = 602 students). The students' understanding of several NOS aspects, assessed by their responses on two validated surveys, was significantly affected by the treatment. However, different NOS aspects were promoted by different treatments, which suggests that no single model or pedagogy can increase all aspects of NOS understanding. Instead, the instructional approach should be selected on the basis of the desired NOS learning outcomes.
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Vol. 63 • No. 5