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While this “warm classroom” example is based on observational results, other hypotheses and experiments might have clearer controls. For instance, a student might attend class on Monday and realize she had difficulty concentrating on the lecture. One observation to explain this occurrence might be, “When I eat breakfast before class, I am better able to pay attention.” The student could then design an experiment with a control to test this hypothesis.

Art connection

A flow chart shows the steps in the scientific method. In step 1, an observation is made. In step 2, a question is asked about the observation. In step 3, an answer to the question, called a hypothesis, is proposed. In step 4, a prediction is made based on the hypothesis. In step 5, an experiment is done to test the prediction. In step 6, the results are analyzed to determine whether or not the hypothesis is correct. If the hypothesis is incorrect, another hypothesis is made. In either case, the results are reported.
The scientific method consists of a series of well-defined steps. If a hypothesis is not supported by experimental data, a new hypothesis can be proposed.

In the example below, the scientific method is used to solve an everyday problem. Order the scientific method steps (numbered items) with the process of solving the everyday problem (lettered items). Then, based on the results of the experiment, is the hypothesis correct? If it is incorrect, propose some alternative hypotheses.

  1. Observation
  2. Question
  3. Hypothesis (answer)
  4. Prediction
  5. Experiment
  6. Result
  1. There is something wrong with the electrical outlet.
  2. If something is wrong with the outlet, my coffeemaker also won’t work when plugged into it.
  3. My toaster doesn’t toast my bread.
  4. I plug my coffee maker into the outlet.
  5. My coffeemaker works.
  6. Why doesn’t my toaster work?

In hypothesis-based science, specific results are predicted from a general premise. This type of reasoning is called deductive reasoning: deduction proceeds from the general to the particular. But the reverse of the process is also possible: sometimes, scientists reach a general conclusion from a number of specific observations. This type of reasoning is called inductive reasoning, and it proceeds from the particular to the general. Inductive and deductive reasoning are often used in tandem to advance scientific knowledge ( [link] ).

Art connection

Diagram defines two types of reasoning. In inductive reasoning, a general conclusion is drawn from a number of observations. In deductive reasoning, specific results are predicted from a general premise. An example of inductive reasoning is given. In this example, three observations are made: (1) Members of a species are not all the same. (2) Individuals compete for resources. (3) Species are generally adapted to their environment. From these observations, the following conclusion is drawn: Individuals most adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and pass their traits on to the next generation. An example of deductive reasoning is also given. In this example, the general premise is that individuals most adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and pass their traits on to the next generation. From this premise, it is predicted that, if global climate change causes the temperature in an ecosystem to increase, those individuals better adapted to a warmer climate will outcompete those that are not.
Scientists use two types of reasoning, inductive and deductive reasoning, to advance scientific knowledge. As is the case in this example, the conclusion from inductive reasoning can often become the premise for inductive reasoning.

Decide if each of the following is an example of inductive or deductive reasoning.

  1. All flying birds and insects have wings. Birds and insects flap their wings as they move through the air. Therefore, wings enable flight.
  2. Insects generally survive mild winters better than harsh ones. Therefore, insect pests will become more problematic if global temperatures increase.
  3. Chromosomes, the carriers of DNA, separate into daughter cells during cell division. Therefore, DNA is the genetic material.
  4. Animals as diverse as humans, insects, and wolves all exhibit social behavior. Therefore, social behavior must have an evolutionary advantage.

The scientific method may seem too rigid and structured. It is important to keep in mind that, although scientists often follow this sequence, there is flexibility. Sometimes an experiment leads to conclusions that favor a change in approach; often, an experiment brings entirely new scientific questions to the puzzle. Many times, science does not operate in a linear fashion; instead, scientists continually draw inferences and make generalizations, finding patterns as their research proceeds. Scientific reasoning is more complex than the scientific method alone suggests. Notice, too, that the scientific method can be applied to solving problems that aren’t necessarily scientific in nature.

How bis2a will be taught

BIS 2A the first course in the Biological Sciences lower division core sequence. This sequence provides a foundation in modern biology for a broad range of majors. In BIS2A we introduce you to the fundamental chemical, molecular, genetic, and cellular building blocks of living organisms and universal core concepts in biology. There is a heavy focus on the fundamental unit of living systems, the cell. In BIS 2B you will examine ecological and evolutionary processes that shape biological diversity. Finally in BIS 2C you will examine biological diversity in detail. BIS2A is intended to provide you with foundational knowledge that you will build on in 2B and 2C and carry with you throughout your subsequent courses. We will stress important concepts but will also expect you to learn some of the vocabulary of Biology. This should be fun!

BIS 2A focuses on developing your understanding of several core concepts in biology that can be applied in contexts beyond the boundaries of this course. We expect that once you have successfully completed this course that you will be able to:

  • 1. Apply principles of chemistry and bioenergetics in the context of biological systems to describe how cells acquire and transform energy to fuel various life sustaining processes, including chemical transformations of elemental compounds, cellular replication, and cellular information processing.
  • 2. Explain the relationship between genotype and key genetic processes that create phenotypic diversity.
  • 3. Describe the processes regulating the management of cellular information; how information is stored, read, rearranged, replicated; how cells interact with their environment and how these processes can control cellular physiology. Insert paragraph text here.

Art connections

[link] Decide if each of the following is an example of inductive or deductive reasoning.

  1. All flying birds and insects have wings. Birds and insects flap their wings as they move through the air. Therefore, wings enableflight.
  2. Insects generally survive mild winters better than harsh ones. Therefore, insect pests will become more problematic if global temperatures increase.
  3. Chromosomes, the carriers of DNA, separate into daughter cells during cell division. Therefore, DNA is the genetic material.
  4. Animals as diverse as humans, insects, and wolves all exhibit social behavior. Therefore, social behavior must have an evolutionary advantage.

[link] 1: inductive; 2: deductive; 3: deductive; 4: inductive.

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to bis2a: modules 0.0 to 1.2. OpenStax CNX. Jun 15, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11825/1.1
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