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Critique evidence

Science knowledge is based on data derived from direct, or indirect observations of the natural physical world and often includes measuring something. An inference is a conclusion you draw from observations – the meaning you make from observations. Understanding the difference is an important step towards being scientifically literate.

This capability illustrates well the point that capabilities are more than skills. In order to evaluate the trustworthiness of data, students need to know quite a lot about the qualities of scientific tests. They need both methodological knowledge and statistical knowledge to know what sorts of questions to ask. Students should be encouraged to ask and answer questions such as:

  • How sure are you of your results?
  • How did you get the data? What were the possible short comings of this method?
  • How could you check your findings?
  • How many times was the experiment repeated?
  • How were the measurements taken and recorded? How confident are you that the measurements are accurate?
  • Did these results surprise you? What were you expecting to find out?
  • Would these results always be true?

Knowing something about interpreting data is important for the scientifically literate citizen. In addition to the questions above, scientifically literate citizens need to think about who benefits from any particular findings, and the level of the researchers’ impartiality. They also need to be clear about the limits of science. Not all questions can be answered by science.

Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels  – Features typical of level 2 tasks are contrasted with those students might encounter at level 5. A mix of the aspects in the task design will determine its overall difficulty level for students.

Level 1- 4

Level 5

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