Science and Teaching for Field Instructors

Evaluating Evidence

Every day we’re faced with competing explanations. The ability to evaluate the strength of evidence is an important part of constructing and critiquing scientific explanations (as well as an important life skill). Yet it’s not just a matter of which explanation has more evidence. In this activity, students learn a criterion for evaluating the quality of evidence-based on how connected the evidence is to a claim. Next, they apply this criterion by sorting various possible pieces of evidence for a claim and discussing the strength of that evidence. Then, students apply this criterion in a discussion about the evidence of animals they may see during their time at an outdoor science experience. This activity is designed to prepare students for an outdoor science experience (but can also be done after such an experience.)

Students will:
  • Learn a criterion for evaluating the strength of evidence: how connected the evidence is to the claim it is meant to support.
  • Based on this criterion, rate the strength of evidence cards that could support the claim: Cheetahs are predators of wildebeest.
  • Apply this criterion in a discussion about the strength of different pieces of evidence for the presence of animals.
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