What can researchers and educators do to help students develop scientific-reasoning ability? Relations between instructional methods and the development of scientific reasoning have been widely studied and have shown that inquiry-based science instruction promotes scientific-reasoning abilities (24-29). The current style of content-rich STEM education, even when carried out at a rigorous level, has little impact on the development of students’ scientific-reasoning abilities. It seems that it is not what we teach, but rather how we teach, that makes a difference in student learning of higher- order abilities in science reasoning. Because students ideally need to develop both content knowledge and transferable reasoning skills, researchers and educators must invest more in the development of a balanced method of education, such as incorporating more inquiry-based learning that targets both goals.
From this paper in the recent issue of Science by L Bao et al on how knowing scientific facts does not always translate to scientific reasoning skills.