Knowledge framework for the natural sciences

Knowledge framework: the natural sciences

The ‘knowledge framework’ is designed to help students explore, discuss, and form an understanding of each of the eight areas of knowledge. The knowledge framework isn’t a formal element of the TOK essay or presentation (ie, it isn’t directly assessed); instead, it is designed to present various consideration points that that can then be used to compare and contrast the different areas of knowledge, as well as tying them to the ways of knowing.

1. Scope and applications

What is the social function of the natural sciences? How many different forms does it encompass (eg physics, chemistry, geology, biology, etc.)? What are their separate aims? To what extent are natural sciences influenced by the society and culture in which they are pursued? How important are the natural sciences?

2. Concepts and language

How do we use language to express the knowledge found within natural sciences? To what extent does this differ according to different forms of natural sciences? Are there any central concepts for which we need specific language before approaching natural sciences?

3. Methodology

Which ways of knowing do we use in order to connect with, and understand, natural sciences? Which ways of knowing do the natural scientists themselves use in order to study natural sciences and communicate their understanding of it?

4. Historical development

How has our understanding and perception of natural sciences changed over time? How has the role of natural sciences within society developed? To what extent has the nature of natural sciences (for example, the different forms of natural sciences) changed? What relationship do today’s natural sciences have with those of the past? (to paraphrase Newton, do they ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’?)

5. Links to personal knowledge

To what extent are you involved with natural sciences? How is your perception of the world, and your position it in, affected by natural sciences?

Cite this page as: Dunn, Michael. Knowledge framework for the natural sciences (12th September 2013). Last accessed: 20th March 2018


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