PowerPoint: The Hypothetico-Deductive Model

This is a simple one-slide PowerPoint presentation of Popper’s classic model of scientific research. The presentation contains two versions:

  1. Click-to-advance: this allows teachers to reveal each element in the model at their own pace. This is useful if you want to talk about each of the elements before revealing the next.
  2. Self-advancing: if you want to just show a class how the model develops this option slowly (there’s a two-second delay before each reveal) displays each element in turn.

If you want to give your students some notes to accompany the presentation the following should help:

Scientific Procedures

Scientists must follow an agreed set of methodological procedures governing how data can be collected and analysed and one of the most influential examples of these comes from Popper’s (1934) notion of a Hypothetico-deductive model. This involves a number of phases:

  1. Phenomena: Scientists choose and reflect on ‘a problem’ requiring explanation. They then:
  2. Generate ideas about how to study ‘the problem’. This involves observations, both personal and of any work that may previously have been done in the area of interest. This eventually leads to the formation of a:
  3. Testable hypothesis: To clarify ‘the problem’, a hypothesis is stated that must be capable of being tested through the collection and analysis of evidence. In Popper’s formulation, a hypothesis must be capable of being disproven through:
  4. Systematic observation: Hypothesis testing involves collecting data in a reliable way. In the natural sciences, for example, experimentation is widely used because the scientist can control the conditions under which data are generated. After collection, data are:
  5. Systematically analysed – the data have to be objectively interpreted so that:

Conclusions can be drawn from them. On the basis of the evidence, the hypothesis is either:

  • Refuted (shown to be false) – in which case the scientist might develop a new testable hypothesis – or
  • Confirmed – shown to be ‘not false’, an important distinction because Popper argues scientific knowledge can never be conclusively shown to be ‘true’. A ‘confirmed hypothesis’ then becomes part of a:
  • Theory – an explanatory statement (usually) consisting of a series of linked, confirmed hypotheses that allow the scientist to make predictive statements about the behaviour initially observed.

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