History of Science and Science Teaching


The project HIPST (History and Philosophy in Science Teaching) presents an effort by some science education scholars to promote science education by the development of materials for teaching and learning science which are informed by the history and philosophy of science.


We suggest the use of the HPS (History and Philosophy of Science) in science education as an approach to foster public understanding of science for a wide audience. We assume this objective as central for the development of a modern civil society.


This effort is based on knowledge which has been accumulated in the recent past in the research discourse in science education (e.g. Matthews 1994). The project reflects the specific needs of science education and a specific vision of these scholars in this area.


As a scientific discipline, science education has developed several basic approaches which account for the process of learning-teaching of science as well as suggest a possible basis for a curriculum design: "educational constructivism"; "educational reconstruction"; “didactic transposition”, "inquiry learning"; "teaching by modeling"; "discipline-culture". Each of these approaches has its advantages and shortcomings. None of them alone addresses and accounts for all facets of science education as required by our society. In the following we briefly summarize the points of our vision supported by research evidence.


Our goals presented here are rather broad. In fact, what science one has to learn strongly depends on the educational goals adopted. Indeed, our students who want to become physicists, engineers, science teachers or any other professional in science, technology and humanities hold different educational objectives. However, despite of the huge variety of goals, there is still a common core of universal knowledge, which we term the "cultural basis" of scientific knowledge. This basic knowledge should be addressed in introductory science education.


Several studies stated that students' epistemological beliefs about knowledge, its development in science and acquisition by the learner affect attitudes to science and the processes of learning (Baumert et al. 2000, Edmondson et al. 1993, Halloun et al. 1998, Hogan 2000, Lising et al. 2005, Songer et al. 1991, Tsai 1999, Urhahne et al. 2004). Research reports and teaching practice have shown the effectiveness of history-oriented teaching for learning about the nature of science (Solomon et al. 1992, Barth 1999, Irwin 2000, Heering 2000, Galili et al. 2001, Lin et al. 2002, Solbes et al. 2003, Howe et al 2005, Mamlok-Naaman et al 2005, Seker et al. 2005, Dedes et al. 2008).




Barth, M. (1999). History of Science in Secondary Education: Experiences from the Classroom. Paper presented at the conference "Science as Culture" in Pavia, Sept. 1999.


Baumert, J., Bos, W., Brockmann, J., Gruehn, S. Klieme, E., Köller, O., Lehmann, R., Lehrke, M., Neubrand, J., Schnabel, K. U., Schwippert, K., & Watermann, R. (2000). TIMSS/III–Deutschland. Der Abschlussbericht. Zusammenfassung ausgewählter Ergebnisse der Dritten Internationalen Mathematik-und Naturwissenschaftsstudie zur mathematischen und naturwissenschaftlichen Bildung am Ende der Schullaufbahn. Berlin, http://www.timss.mpg.de/TIMSS_im_Ueberblick/TIMSSIII-Broschuere.pdf (10.11.2006).


Dedes, C., & Ravanis, K. (2008 online first). History of Science and Conceptual Change: The Formation of Shadows by Extended Lights Sources. Science & Education.

Edmondson, K. M. & Novak, J. D. (1993). The interplay of scientific epistemological views, learning strategies, and attitudes of college students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 30 (6), 547 – 559.


Galili, I., & Hazan, A. (2001). The Effect of a History-Based Course in Optics on Students’ Views about Science. Science & Education, 10: 7-32.

Halloun, I.A. & Hestenes, D. (1998). 'Interpreting VASS dimensions and profiles', Science & Education, 7(6), 553-577.

Heering, P. (2000). 'Getting shocks: Teaching Secondary School Physics through History'. Science & Education 9(4), 363-373.

Hogan, Kathleen (2000). Exploring a Process View of Students’ Knowledge about the Nature of Science.


Science Education, 84, 51-70.


Howe, E. M., & Rudge, D. W. (2005). Recapitulating the History of Sickle-Cell Anemia Research. Science & Education, 14(3-5), 423 - 441.

Irwin, A. R. (2000). 'Historical Case Studies: Teaching the Nature of Science in Context', Science Education, 84(1), 5-26.

Lin, H.-S. & Chen, C.-C. (2002). Promoting Preservice Chemistry Teachers’ Understanding about the Nature of Science through History. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39 (9), 773-792.


Lising, L. & Elby, A. (2005). The Impact of Epistemology on Learning: A Case Study from Introductory Physics. American Journal of Physics, 73 (4), 372-382.

Matthews, M. R. (1994). Science Teaching. The Role of History and Philosophy of Science. Routledge, New York.

Mamlok-Naaman, R., Ben-Zvi, R., Hofstein, A., Menis, J., & Erduran, S. (2005). Learning Science through a Historical Approach: Does It Affect the Attitudes of Non-Science-Oriented Students towards Science?


International Journal of Science & Math Education, 3 (3), Sep 2005, 485 - 507.


Seker, H. & Welsh, L. C. (2005) . 'The Comparison of Explicit and Implicit Ways of Using History of Science for Students’ Understanding of the Nature of Science'. Paper prepared for the Eighth International History, Philosophy, Sociology & Science Teaching Conference (IHPST), Leeds, UK.


Solbes, J. & Traver, M. (2003). Against a Negative Image of Science: History of Science and the Teaching of Physics and Chemistry. Science & Education, 12, 703-717.

Solomon, J., Duveen, J., Scot, L., & McCarthy, S. (1992). Teaching about the Nature of Science through History: Action Research in the Classroom. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29 (4), 409-421.

Songer, N. B. & Linn, M. C. (1991). How do Students’ Views of Science Influence Knowledge Integration,


Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 28 (9), 761-784.


Tsai, C. C. (1999). Scientific Epistemological Views and Learning in Laboratory Activities, International Journal of Science Education, 83, 654-674.

Urhahne, D., & Hopf, M. (2004). Epistemologische Überzeugungen in den Naturwissenschaften und ihre Zusammenhänge mit Motivation, Selbstkonzept und Lernstrategien. Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Naturwissenschaften, 10, 70-86.