We Use Three main ways of investigating Scientific Thinking


Our own experiments involving students, formulating hypotheses, designing experiments, conducting experiments and evaluating data (InVitro Scientific Reasoning).  We bring students into our lab and using a scientific domain, such as Biology, we conduct our experiments on simplified tasks that exemplify the key components of scientific Thinking. We call this We have investigated the strategies that people use to acquire new scientific concepts, use of scientific analogies, deductive scientific reasoning, and the strategies (heuristics) that people use when they encounter data that is surprising anomalous or unexpected.


Investigations of Scientists as they Think, Reason, and Interact in their own labs (Invivo Scientific Reasoning). When seeking to understand complex thought processes such as the progression of thought leading to a scientific discovery, traditional avenues can be inadequate. Thus, to uncover what it is that scientists really do it is important to investigate scientists "live" as they think and reason in their laboratories. " Dr. Dunbar has spent extended periods of time (four months to a year) in molecular biology and immunology laboratories, videotaping and audiotaping scientists at work in their laboratories in the United States, Canada, and Italy. Analyses of the types of reasoning that scientists use at these meetings, supplemented by pre and post meeting interviews with individual lab members, has made it possible to uncover the thinking and reasoning mechanisms used by scientific minds. We also investigate familes as they think, reason interact and discuss science when they attend science museums. Often we then go back into our own lab and investigate what we have discovered in the naturalistic situations.


Educational Neuroscience research on Scientific Thinking and Reasoning.  We have used fMRI, fNIRS, and EEG to investigate the neural underpinnings of Scientific Thought, that in conjunction with our behavioral research are shedding light on why some scientific concepts are difficult to acquire, test, and evaluate.  This leads us to designing educational interventions that have the potential to transform Science Education.