Ideas about earthquakes after experiencing a natural disaster in Taiwan: An analysis of students' worldviews

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On September 21st, 1999, the central part of Taiwan suffered an earthquake which was 7.3 on the Richter scale. This disaster provided a unique and rare opportunity to study students' worldviews. Science educators have proposed that students' worldviews influence their ways of interpreting natural phenomena and then impose an effect on conceptual development in science. The objective of this study was to explore students' worldviews as revealed by their ideas about the causality of earthquakes after experiencing the natural disaster. In Taiwan's socio-cultural milieu, there are some indigenous worldviews about earthquakes including the perspectives of supernatural forces and myths. Through tracking the ideas of 60 fifth graders and sixth graders for eight months, this study showed that students tended to employ the following three major approaches to resolve the incongruence between indigenous worldviews and scientific worldviews. First, they may try to accept the scientific ideas and to abandon their original worldviews. Second, they may try to grasp the scientific views and at the same time try to keep the indigenous worldviews unchanged. Many students held a scientific/myths dual perspective about the causes of earthquakes. Finally, they may retain their original worldview and try to ignore the scientific worldview. This paper finally suggests that science educators need to integrate socio-cultural aspects of science and of learning science into science education research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1016
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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