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Jerry Jinks1997

Illinois State University


The following is a list of the thirteen science processes advocated by the American
Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). These are best thought of as a set of
intellectual skills that are associated with acquiring reliable information about nature. Each
process is defined. In addition, comment about the inherent nature of each of the skills is
provided. The first eight processes are called "basic processes" and are appropriate for children
in the primary grades. The last five are called "integrated processes" and are more appropriate for
children at grades four and above.
1. Observation
This is the most fundamental of all of the processes. Observation may be defined as the gathering
of information through the use of any one, or combination of the five basic senses; sight, hearing,
touch, taste, and smell.
The term observation may also be used to express the result of observing. In other words one
might observe and, as a result, gather observations. These observations can also be called data or
Observation should suggest objectivity as opposed to the expression of opinion. For example,
"John is a bad boy" is not an observation. On the other hand, "John exhibits behavior that we
characterize as bad" is an observation. "John is throwing Mary out of the window" is also an
Skilled observers seem to proceed from general perceptions of a system to more specific ones so
the nature of skilled observing can be thought of as analytical. Systems are first observed as a
whole then analyzed for subsystem information. Subsequently, subsystems can be treated as a
whole and subjected to further analysis in an ever tightening spiral. Technology can be used to
amplify the senses, which provides for even more analysis. A microscope, for example, is a
technology that allows us to see things that are too small to be seen with the unaided eye.
In summary, observation is an objective process of gathering data through the use of one's senses
applied in an analytical way.
2. Measurement
Measurement is an observation made more specific by comparing some attribute of a system to a
standard of reference. An example is when the length of an object is expressed in terms of the
length of a meter or when the mass of an object is expressed by referring to a standard such as a
gram. Measurement and observation are the only process skills that are actually two forms of the
same thing.

There are many standards that can be employed to make observations more precise. For instance,
academic scholarship can be expressed as a grade. When one receives an "A" or a "C" in a
course one's performance has been measured relative to a standard. In a similar fashion, a four
star restaurant is a measure of quality.
As one can see from these examples, a measurement can range from highly concrete and
universal to rather conditional. Observing that a stick is 27 centimeters long requires little
interpretation. The meaning is rigid and understood by anyone, anywhere who is familiar with
the metric system. On the other hand, being an "A" student may require considerable
interpretation with meaning highly dependent upon circumstance. And, of course, with respect to
restaurants, "Charlie's Four Star Chili Dog Heaven" may be just that to some.
The nature of this process entails the description of some system attribute by comparison to a
standard of reference.
3. Classification
Classification is the process of grouping objects on the basis of observable traits. Objects that
share a given characteristic can be said to belong to the same set. The process is somewhat
arbitrary depending upon the identifying trait selected.
This is an important process to science because of an underlying assumption that kinship in one
regard may entail kinship in others. Science assumes that to a large degree the universe is
consistent with it's laws holding true everywhere. Therefore, if a set of objects share one thing in
common they may well share other attributes.
Also there is the notion of realness or depth. This means that the more characteristic a trait is of a
particular system the closer the kinship of those sharing the trait. For example, consider the idea
of a marble. What makes a marble a marble? Is color a fundamental component of being a
marble? We could, of course, classify objects on the basis of color but is that a deep
characteristic? Because some marbles are red does it follow that all red objects are marbles? The
issue here is that some traits are more expressive of the essence of the system than are other
shared traits. In most instances we should seek to classify on the basis of traits that are essential
to the idea of the set.
The nature of the skill of classification is two fold. First, one must be able to identify traits and,
second, one must select traits that express the deeper essence of the system.
4. Quantification
Quantification refers to the process of using numbers to express observations rather than relying
only on qualitative descriptions.
The process has two major values. First, by expressing something in numerical terms the need
for translation of verbal meaning is reduced. Second, the use of numbers allows mathematical
logic to be applied to attempts to explore, describe and understand nature.

For example, consider a situation where one might try to describe the various hair colors of
students in a classroom. Try making an accurate and complete description using only qualitative
terms. At best we might develop groupings based on generic names such as brunette and blonde
(I am sure you will recognize these as an example of classification, as described above). The
problem we must deal with is that terms such as brunette and blonde are not absolute. Some
brunettes are obviously darker than others and some blondes are clearly lighter than others and
we need a scheme that will allow us to express such variation. Numbers will allow us to do that.
For example, suppose Sally's hair is the darkest and Jeff's is the lightest. If we assigned a number
such as 10 to Sally and 1 to Jeff a range has been developed within which all other shades must
fall. Incidentally, the range could be reversed with Sally being assigned the 1 and Jeff the 10. It
really doesn't matter and the scheme would work just as well. Either way, by defining color as a
number the arithmetic logic of sequencing can be applied to the problem. In so doing, we find
that all observers of hair color are playing by the same rules. Everyone is accepting the
quantitative logic so that there is no question that haircolor #7 must fall somewhere, probably
midway, between #6 and #8. This leaves a lot of room for describing very subtle differences. For
instance, we can have some idea of the color difference between a 6.9 and a 7.2 but try
describing that difference in qualitative terms.
Consequently the nature of the skill of quantification is one of application where one seeks
precision of expression by transferring the logic of mathematics to qualitative problems.
5. Inferring
Inferring is an inventive process in which an assumption of cause is generated to explain an
observed event. This is a very common function and is influenced by culture and personal
theories of nature.
Inferences can also influence actions. For example, suppose two students receive a poor grade on
some project. One student observes the poor grade and infers that the reason he received it was
because the teacher does not like him. The second student infers that he did not spend enough
time on the project. Would you expect these two students to respond to the poor grade in the
same way? In both cases the event was the same but different inferences about the cause of the
event would likely lead to very different responses.
The nature of this process is inventive within the parameters of cosmology and culture.
6. Predicting
This process deals with projecting events based upon a body of information. One might project
in a future tense, a sort of trend analysis, or one might look for an historical precedent to a
current circumstance. In either case, the prediction emerges for a data base rather than being just
a guess. A guess is not a prediction. By definition, predictions must also be testable. This means
that predictions are accepted or rejected based upon observed criteria. If they are not testable
they are not predictions.

It is not unusual to find that a data base is not available for a particular system. In such cases
predictions about that system are not possible. The first step in understanding such a mystery
system would be to observe it as objectively as possible with the goal being to acquire the data
base necessary to develop predictions.
The nature of the skill of predicting is to be able to identify a trend in a body of data and then to
project that trend in a way that can be tested.
7. Relationships
The process skill of relationships deals with the interaction of variables. This interaction can be
thought of as a kind of influence--counter influence occurring among a system's variables.
Relationships can occur in multiple or single dimensions. An example of a multiple dimension
relationship is speed with distance and time representing the two dimensions. Single dimension
relationships can only be expressed relative to something else as in the location in space of some
object. It's location can only be expressed with relative terms such as over, under, near, far, etc.
Of course the notion of relationships can be extended into more abstract areas such as values,
friendships, marriage, love, and growth, for examples.
The inherent nature of this skill is that it requires analytical thought in which one seeks to dissect
cause from effect. The causal elements are the system's variables and the effect is the resulting
8. Communication
This process actually refers to a group of skills, all of which represent some form of systematic
reporting of data. The most common examples include data display tables, charts and graphs.
The process is conceptually fairly simple and is frequently based upon some type of two or three
dimensional matrix with the axes representing the system variables and the cells of the matrix
representing the interactions.
The purpose of the communication skills is to represent information in such a way that the
maximum amount of data can be reviewed with an eye toward discovering inherent patterns of
The inherent nature of this process skill involves the ability to see and, consequently, represent
information as the interplay among influencing variables.
9. Interpreting data
This process refers to the intrinsic ability to recognize patterns and associations within bodies of
data. Obviously there is a direct contribution of the previous process, communication, to
interpreting data. The better the data is represented the more likely one will detect associations
within the data.

Interpretation probably requires creative thinking that results in the invention of conceptual
umbrellas that can encompass the data.
10. Controlling variables
This process is also a kind of group process because one may engage in several different
behaviors in an attempt to control variables. In general, this skill is any attempt to isolate a single
influent of a system so that it's role can be inferred. The process is an attempt to achieve a
circumstance or condition in which the impact of one variable is clearly exposed. The use of
experimental and control circumstances, standardizing procedures and repeated measures are
only a few of the ways in which variables might be controlled.
Understanding the nature of the skill requires analytical thinking in which the system under study
can be reduced to a set of interacting components. The next step is to establish some
circumstance that allows the scientist to observe one component in isolation.
11. Operational definitions
An operational definition is one that is made in measurable, or observable terms. An operational
definition should not require interpretation of meaning nor is it relative. The meaning of the
defined term must be explicit and limited to the parameters established for the definition.
An operational definition is primarily a research tool and related to the concern for controlling
variables. The major function of operational definitions is to establish the parameters of an
investigation or conclusion in an attempt to gain a higher degree of objectivity.
Consider this example. An investigator suggests that by applying some treatment a class of
students will become more intelligent. The problem here lies with the word intelligent. What
does it mean? And, more to the point, what does the investigator mean with the word? In order to
evaluate the treatment intelligence must be defined in a very clear way. Perhaps, in this case,
defining intelligence as a score on an IQ test makes sense. Such a definition (intelligence = IQ
score) would be an excellent example of an operational definition.
In terms of the nature of the skill, we are again dealing with analytical issues. An individual who
is skillful a making operational definitions is one who can engage in reductionistic thinking that
defines phenomena as a collection of components which interact.
12. Hypothesizing
Hypothesizing is, again, an intrinsic and creative mental process rather than a more straight
forward and obvious behavior. Consequently, developing this ability is probably less a product of
linear training but more a function of intuitive thinking that emerges from experience.
Defined, an hypothesis in a response, or potential solution, to a specific research question, or
problem. For our purposes we will insist upon a rather rigid use of the term and will restrict it to
the second step in the classical scientific algorithm as outlined in the next process.

The kind of hypothesis one produces is also heavily dependent upon one's world view. For
instance consider the individual whose world view is based upon anthropomorphic and
supernatural beliefs. This person is likely to develop anthropomorphic and supernatural
hypotheses in response to questions so disasters become a function of angered gods and good
times result from happier gods. A result of western science has been to replace the supernatural
worldview with one steeped in the physics of Newton and the philosophy of Descartes. This has
lead to an industrial age cosmology characterized by cause and effect and the separateness of the
observed from the observer. Therefore current explanations (or hypotheses) are more likely to
take the form of a causal chain forged link by link by observations which seem to lead inevitably
to a conclusion.
The nature of the skill is to recognize that objectively gathered observations are justified into an
explanation as a result of having an operational cosmology, or worldview. Secondly, a good
hypothesizer recognizes that explanations are inventions rather than discoveries and subject to
rejection based upon facts. Beyond this no one is really sure how hypotheses are actually
generated. No one really knows what goes on in the mind that results in the hypothesis but it
seems reasonable to suspect that information, perceptions, and ideas are being combined and
recombined until a particular combination seems to make sense.
13. Experimenting
This process is a systematic approach to solving a problem. Usually experimenting is
synonymous with the algorithm called scientific method which follows these five basic steps:



In experimentation each step emerges from the previous one. The purpose of the process is to
judge the extent to which an hypothesis might be true and to set a standard whereby that
judgement is made. Consequently, scientists tend to think in terms of probabilities of truth rather
than absolute correctness.
As a term, experimenting is frequently used in a much broader way than described here. It is not
unusual to hear teachers applying the term to any activity or demonstration but, strictly speaking,
experimentation should be reserved for the process of systematically evaluating hypotheses.

Quantitative and qualitative research programs claim different philosophical perspectives, and
correspondingly, work with different underlying assumptions. Quantitative research identifies
with positivism, which, presented by Gall, Borg, and Gall (1996), is the belief that physical
and social reality is independent of those who observe it (p.18). Quantitative researchers are
concerned with an objective reality that is out there to be discovered (Krathwohl, 1998) and
the researcher is independent of that which is being researched (Creswell, 1994).
Accordingly, in qualitative research, the researcher identifies with postpositivism which offers
that social reality is constructed and it is constructed differently by different individuals (Gall,
et al., 1996, p.19). They would assume that social reality is constructed by the participants in
it and that social reality is continuously constructed in local situations (Gall, Gall & Borg,
1999). Qualitative researchers are concerned with how individuals perceive their world
(Krathwohl, 1998) and these researchers interact with that which is being researched (Creswell,
Untuk memulai membahas penelitian kuantitatif, kita terlebih dahulu akan menjelaskan
mengenai filosi yang mendasari dikembangkannya jenis penelitian ini. Penelitian kuantittatif
berlandasan filosi positivistik. Paham yang dianut filosofi positivistik adalah: sumber
pengetahuan adalah pengalaman manusia. Nama lain untuk positivistik adalah behaviorisme,
atau naturalisme dengan tokohnya yang terkenal John Lock dan David Home serta August
Comte (1798 1857). Aliran filosofi potivistik telah memengaruhi filsafat ilmu semenjak awal
abad ke-20.
Prinsip penting terkait aliran positivistik adalah ilmu pengetahuan memiliki 2 karakteristik
penting, yaitu kriteria eksplanatori dan kriteria prediktif. Jadi setiap penelitian yang tentunya
bertujuan untuk memperoleh ilmu pengetahuan,harus memiliki pula kedua kriteria ini. Sebuah
penelitian harus mampu menjelaskan tentang apa yang dikajinya, baik hubungan, perbedaan,
pengaruh, maupun sampel terhadap populasi. Selain itu sebagai bukti memiliki kriteria prediktif,
penelitian harus mampu memprediksi kemungkinan-kemungkinan yang akan terjadi. Sebuah
hasil penelitian yang baik akan mempunyai daya prediksi yang tinggi.
Menurut aliran filsafat positivistik, semua ilmu pengetahuan harus memiliki sifat-sifat: objektif,
fenomenalisme, reduksionisme, dan naturalisme. Imu pengetahuan dikatakan objektif karena ia
bebas nilai. Ia tidak dapat dipengaruhi oleh apapun. Iaharus menjelaskan fenomena-fenomena
sebagaimana adanya. Ilmu pengetahuan disebut memiliki sifat fenomenalisme karena ilmu
pengetahuan hanya membahas segala seuatu yang dapat diindera: didasarkan pada data dan
fakta. Dalam mengembangkan ilmu pengetahuan dari penelitian ilmiah, sifat reduksionisme tidak
dapat tidak ditinggalkan. Ia adalah suatu keniscayaan dimana data yang dikumpulkan harus
direduksi sedemikian rupa sehingga kita dapat melihat fakta dengan lebih jelas untuk
kemudian dapat ditarik kesimpulan. Naturalisme berarti bahwa segala sesuatu tentang alam
semesta ini selalu terikat dan berada dalam hukum-hukum alam tertentu, ia berada dalam
Burrell dan Morgan (1979:1) berpendapat bahwa ilmu sosial dapat dikonseptualisasikan
dengan empat asumsi yang berhubungan dengan ontologi, epistemologi, sifat manusia (human
nature), dan metodologi. Ontologi. Ontologi adalah asumsi yang penting tentang inti dari
fenomena dalam penelitian.

Pertanyaan dasar tentang ontologi menekankan pada apakah realita yang diteliti
objektif ataukah realita adalah produk kognitif individu. Debat tentang ontologi oleh karena itu
dibedakan antara realisme (yang menganggap bahwa dunia sosial ada secara independen dari
apresiasi individu) dan nominalisme (yang menganggap bahwa dunia sosial yang berada di luar
kognitif individu berasal dari sekedar nama, konsep dan label yang digunakan untuk menyusun
realita). Epistemologi. Epistemologi adalah asumsi tentang landasan ilmu pengetahuan (grounds









mengkomunikasikannya sebagai pengetahuan kepada orang lain. Bentuk pengetahuan apa yang
bisa diperoleh? Bagaimana seseorang dapat membedakan apa yang disebut benar dan apa yang
disebut salah? Apakah sifat ilmu pengetahuan? Pertanyaan dasar tentang epistemologi
menekankan pada apakah mungkin untuk mengidentifikasikan dan mengkomunikasikan
pengetahuan sebagai sesuatu yang keras, nyata dan berwujud (sehingga pengetahuan dapat
dicapai) atau apakah pengetahuan itu lebih lunak, lebih subjektif, berdasarkan pengalaman dan
wawasan dari sifat seseorang yang unik dan penting (sehingga pengetahuan adalah sesuatu yang
harus dialami secara pribadi).