At a Glance


  • STEM
  • Physics

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • Teaching Science to Young Learners [365-TSC-AB]
  • Sports and the design of sporting equipment [203-DAB-03]

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Individual
  • Group
  • Whole Class

Type of Tasks

  • Discussing
  • Analyzing
  • Taking a quiz & test

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • Online forum platform, like Visual Classrooms
  • For online classes you can use Microsoft forms or another platform that conducts individual quizzes
  • For online classes you'll need a platform with the ability to form breakout groups

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Instructional Purpose

  • Preparation & knowledge activation
  • Consolidation & metacognition


This activity aims to bring about conceptual change by making explicit common misconceptions about the nature of science (NoS), with the ultimate goal of helping students attain a balanced view of NoS. This activity begins with an agree/disagree quiz on NoS (individual, then group). After pausing for an introductory lesson, the class discusses the quiz and then for homework, students post, and respond to, reflections on what they have learned including which questions are still “bugging them” and why.

By giving students the space and guidance to discuss, argue and finally reflect and critique, this activity helps students achieve a more nuanced and balanced view of NoS, allowing them to be more informed, critical thinkers in a science-dominated world.

Coming from a social constructivist theoretical perspective, this activity borrows from the 2-stage assessment and reflective writing strategies. It is designed to “wrap around” a short introductory lesson on the NoS so if you are teaching an entire unit on the nature of science, this activity should take place during the first lesson.

*Note that the short introductory lesson on NoS (card game) is not part of this activity. To get an idea what Phoebe has done in the past, see the lesson plan document, but many things could work here, as long as it introduces some of the basics of NoS.

Instructional Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Justify the expert response for a range of statements on the nature of science, exemplifying a balanced view of the nature of science.
  • Explain, with specific examples, how science is dynamic yet reliable, striving for objectivity yet inherently subjective, and powerful yet limited.

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

Phoebe Jackson

Phoebe Jackson

John Abbott College, Montreal

  • Primes students for an introductory lesson on NoS
  • Improves students’ scientific literacy
  • Improves students’ ability to think critically
  • Time: Due to the controversy the quiz statements generate, the activity can run very long if you are not careful. Limit the # of quiz questions to your needs (I have done anywhere from 5-20) and be firm about ending the discussion when it is time – tell students that they can continue to explore these ideas in the online forum
  • Frustration: There is always at least 1 student who feels strongly about some of the quiz questions and may get frustrated arguing their case. Tensions can be diffused by giving that student extra resources on the relevant aspect of NoS and referring them to the online forum as a place to further discuss these issues with their peers, reminding them to first explore the resources and to report what they learn from these resources in their post
  • When students are working in groups, allow them to agree to disagree if they can not come to a consensus, but ask them to try to minimize the number of times this occurs. You could even give them a maximum number of questions they can disagree about (I haven’t tried this yet)
  • Time permitting, have students vote on response to each quiz question before you reveal the expert response: with certain NoS statements, only a very small minority will give the expert response which opens the door for a conversation about whether everyone’s opinion on scientific matters are equally valid
  • Allow students to argue their responses (at least one from each side) before you give the expert response. Sometimes, a well-argued case will sway more students towards the expert response before you give it
  • The quiz used is a modified version of the science knowledge survey available at

Applied Strategies


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