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Exercise 6 - Towards academic reading
"The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn't misled you into thinking you know something you actually don't know." Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

What does "scientific method" mean?

The scientific method means much more than simply going through a set of steps.

The "scientific method" refers to the kind of thinking that ranges from thinking about possible connections and patterns to asking questions, guessing possible answers and finally testing our different "guesses" or hypotheses.

The scientific method is the process we use when we try to answer questions such as:

"What could be the connection between A and B?"
"If this is true, what will happen if I try to..."
"Then what will happen if I...?"
"What do these results mean?"
"What else could these results mean?"

The questions above lead to the following stages of the scientific method:

- identifying a problem
- forming and testing possible answers or hypotheses
- collecting and interpreting data.

Read the paragraph below to see how Dr. Smith used the stages of the scientific method to improve her students' English.
Dr. Smith lives in Paris and teaches English to college students who speak French at home. She noticed that many of her students were not doing well on their tests and that they didn’t really understand the questions. She thought that if students were given the questions in French, then they would improve their grades. So she gave half the class a test with the questions in French (their native language) while the other half got the same test questions in English.

Match the different stages of the scientific method to what Dr. Smith did with her students.

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