# The Essence of Science Empirical and Systematic Observations

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```					The Essence of Science
Science: Using systematic, empirical
information to make objective
decisions.
Empirical Information: Information
gained through our senses
Characteristics of Research
Empiricism

Precision

Objectivity

Parsimonious Explanation
Occam’s Razor

Logical   Reasoning
Conditional     Conclusions
Systematic     Processes
Cumulative

Verifiable
Empiricism
1. As Opposed to Pure Conjecture
2. As Unfiltered through Our Pre-
Conceptions as Possible
3. Based on Direct Observation as
Much as Possible
   I.e., Just the Facts
Objectivity
Unbiased

But   also Interpreted Very Cautiously
Precision
Detailed,   Accurate Measurement
But also Unambiguous, Careful
Thought/Language/Methods
Related to Validity &
Reliability
Systematic Processes
Cumulative

Verifiable
Parsimonious Explanation
As  Simple a Method & Explanation as
Possible
Conditional Conclusions
Logical Reasoning
Two  Types of Logical Reasoning Most
often Used in Science
Deduction:   From the General to the
Specific
Induction: From   the Specific to the General
Deduction
Applying     a General Rule to a Specific
Case
E.g.,
All   Students Can Learn
This   Person Is a Student
Therefore This   Person Can Learn
Induction
Applying a Specific Rule to Other,
General Cases
E.g.,
AllStudents I’ve Ever Taught Before Could
Learn
Therefore, Any  Students I Encounter in the
Future Will Be Able to Learn, too
Example   of Induction:

The Hat Problem
   Three man are placed in a straight line at a right angle to a
wall, facing the wall. They are all blindfolded. Three hats
are taken from a bin containing three tan hats and two
black hats and placed on their heads. The men are told
that information. The blindfolds are then removed, but the
men remain in line, facing the wall.
   Each man is asked to determine what color hat he is
wearing. The man farthest from the wall who sees the two
men and their hats in front of him says, "I do not know
which color hat I am wearing." The second man from the
wall, who heard the reply and sees the man and the hat in
front of him, says the same thing. The third man, who sees
only the blank wall but has heard the others' replies, says,
"I know which color hat I am wearing."
   Which color hat is he wearing and how did he determine
it?
The King's Wise Men
   A king called the three wisest men in his country to his
court to decide who would become his new advisor. He
placed a hat on each of their heads, such that each wise
man could see all of the other hats, but none of them could
see their own. Each hat was either white or blue. The king
gave his word to the wise men that at least one of them
was wearing a blue hat - in other words, there could be
one, two, or three blue hats, but not zero. The king also
announced that the contest would be fair to all three men.
The wise men were also forbidden to speak to each other.
The king declared that whichever man stood up first and
announced the color of his own hat would become his new
advisor. The wise men sat for a very long time before one
stood up and correctly announced the answer. What did he
say, and how did he work it out?
Use of Logic to Make Predictions
from Observations

Deduction,  Induction, and the Flow
of a Typical Research Paper
Scientific Theory
Defn. of Theory: A Proposed
Relationship between Concepts
Concepts: Abstract  tags scientists use
to describe observations, ideas, and
events.
ConceptsAre Often Conceived of as
Dimensions
Concepts   Need to Be Precisely Defined
Theories Provide a
Scientific
Framework for Understanding
Phenomena.
Mechanisms for How Things Happen
They Propose General Concepts into
which Observed Events Are Placed
Characteristics of (Good) Theories
1.   Make Novel Predictions
From Chen (p. 302):
A key aspect of school structure that relates to
disorder is school size. Theoretically, larger schools
may create an environment of impersonality and
anonymity, which could lead to delinquency.
However, large schools may also provide more
specialized resources and comprehensive
programming that can be tailored to the diverse
needs of the students, enhancing the relevance of
schooling. How school size affects student behavior
is an empirical question. Research findings to date
have not been consistent; school size has been
found to be positively ,negatively, or nonlinearly
related to student behavior and achievement.
Characteristics of (Good) Theories (cont.)
2.   Are Falsifiable
Theories Are Often Couched as
“Models”
A Simplified/Idealized
Conceptualization of a System,
Process, etc. to Facilitate
Understanding and Predictions
Theory    Examples:
Bohr   Model of the Atom
Sternberg’s   Theory of Triarchic Intelligence
Weiner et   al.’s Attribution Theory of Events
Constructivist   Model of Learning
Piaget Stage Theory
of Cog. Development
Social Cognitive
Theory vs.
Behaviorism
So, Science Is the Process of:
Observing   the World
Observed
Using Those Theories to Make
Testing  Those
Predictions
or Changes.
Stanovich & Stanovich (2003), p. 12:
theories to account for particular
positing
phenomena in the world,
deriving   predictions from these theories,
testing the   predictions empirically, and
modifying     the theories based on the tests
the   sequence is typically:
theory → prediction → test → theory
modification
And  the Experiments That People
Conduct Are Devised to Allow This
Process to Proceed in Reliable,
Significant Steps.
Experiments Are
Specifically,
Conducted to Try to Rule Out as
Many Other Possible Explanations as
Possible.
Ona Theoretical Level, It’s Pitting One
Theory Against Another (at the
Minimum, a Theory Against the Null
Theory).
Ona Practical Level, It’s Ruling Out as
Many “Uninteresting” Explanations as
Possible.
Results Are Because of a Bias—in the
I.e.,
Experimenter, Procedure, or Instruments

Or Because of Things We
Don’t Understand—Such
as Chance or Mechanisms
We Don’t Understand
Therefore,    Experiments Are Designed
to Control.
Ideally, toKeep Everything Constant
Except the Thing of Interest and See if
That Matters.
However,   “we [educational
researchers] do our science under
conditions that physical scientists
find intolerable.” David Berliner (2002, p. 18)
Converging Evidence
 Rarely   Does One Study Prove Decisive

 Studies   Are More Like
Building Stones Than
Giant-Killing Bullets.

 IfStudies Are Flawed in Different Ways,
They Can Compensate for Each Other.

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