TOI-6 Scientific and Empirical Inquiry

Knowledge production stems from an interplay of observation, data, hypotheses, and theory concerning the natural universe, social systems, and theoretical models. Through scientific inquiry in the form of problem-solving and questioning, a greater understanding of observable phenomena develops and facilitates well-reasoned conclusions and predictions. Essential to this inquiry is a comprehension of major principles guiding modern scientific thought and awareness of the roles and limitations of interpreting and predicting observable phenomena.

Courses within this Topic of Inquiry category must meet two or more of the following TOI-6 Learning Objectives:

TOI-6 Learning Objective 1: Students will be able to explain and appropriately utilize basic scientific language and concepts.

Sample Course Objectives

  • Identify unifying principles of science and demonstrate competence in applying them to contemporary issues of science, technology, and society
  • Differentiate between scientific and pseudoscientific explanations
  • Assess cause and effect
  • Evaluate the role of people and the diversity of identities and experiences in the process and product of science
  • Discuss ethical issues relating to scientific research
  • Select theories and methods of scientific inquiry to apply in problem solving
  • Describe a scientific process

      TOI-6 Learning Objective 2: Students will be able to design or conduct an experiment or analysis suitable to test a scientific hypothesis and be able to interpret the results.

      Sample Course Objectives

      • Demonstrate safe and appropriate handling and utilization of laboratory materials
      • Develop a method of testing a specified hypothesis, either individually or collaboratively
      • Initiate dialogue and deliberation in the creation, dissemination, or application of scientific knowledge
      • Analyze the results of the experiment
      • Interpret experimental data to logically derive and state valid conclusions

          TOI-6 Learning Objective 3: Students will be able to solve problems described verbally, graphically, symbolically, or numerically.

          Sample Course Objectives

          • Interpret formulas, graphs, and tables
          • Compare and contrast alternative explanations and possible implications
          • Identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments based on key scientific factors
          • Demonstrate the use of scientific or technological thinking for solving problems of everyday life and for determining if a scientific claim is credible
          • Construct a mathematical model for a problem described verbally or graphically
          • Retrieve, organize, and analyze data associated with a scientific or technological model

              TOI-6 Laboratory Courses

              Experiential learning reinforces concepts and theories through practical examples and applications. These experiences develop essential scientific skills in observation, data collection, data analysis, and data interpretation. In application-based learning, teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills are also developed through individual and collective identification of problems, conducting investigations, development of models, analysis and interpretation of data, construction of explanations, and engagement in discussions. Such application-based learning occurs through direct physical manipulation of substances or systems or through indirect modes of delivery of not readily observable phenomena.

              Regardless of discipline, laboratory courses create an environment where students are engaged with concepts in the field through active experimentation and/or observation and data analysis.

              Courses within the TOI-6 Laboratory category must meet the following TOI-6 Laboratory Learning Objective:

              TOI-6 Laboratory Learning Objective: Through application-based experiences utilizing the scientific method, students will be able to identify problems, make observations, analyze data, interpret data, and develop models or explanations.

              Sample Course Objectives

              • Apply scientific concepts to new situations
              • Evaluate the process and outcomes quantitatively and qualitatively
              • Demonstrate skills in collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and presenting findings and data
              • Demonstrate skills in experimental design, observation, and equipment use
              • Evaluate conclusions based on quantitative evidence
              • Estimate statistical errors and identify systematic errors
              • Conduct an experiment collaboratively and ethically
              • Communicate the process and outcomes of a direct or indirect experiment