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Evaluating Scientific Arguments with Slow Thinking

Abstract

"The Next Generation Science Standards emphasize engaging students in scientific practices. However, engaging in science does not only mean doing firsthand scientific experiments and investigations. Another practice that all scientists engage in is evaluating scientific arguments put forward by others. This practice of evaluating scientific arguments is essential for all citizens in a democratic society—while most students will not be conducting formal scientific experiments or investigations after they complete school, we all need to have the knowledge and skills necessary to make sense of societal issues that involve science so that we can make informed decisions in our roles as private and public citizens. In this article, we discuss some of the challenges that students, and indeed most everybody, face as we learn to evaluate scientific arguments that we encounter in our lives. We then describe a unit that uses a claims, evidence, and reasoning framework to introduce students to important practices involving using science to understand socioscientific issues, evaluate scientific arguments made about those issues, and inform personal and societal decisions."

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