[[abstract]]The purpose of the study is to develop students’ explanation skills, explore their scientific epistemologies, and investigate the relationships between students’ explanation skills and scientific epistemologies in inquiry-based learning environment. This study focuses on three explanation skills: “identifying the relationships of variables,” “describing a reasoning process for constructing scientific explanations,” and “using data as evidence,” and scientific epistemologies in this study refer to students’ beliefs about the nature of science (formal epistemology) and their practices of inquiry (practical epistemology). After analyzing quantitative and qualitative data collected from 69 fifth graders in two science classes, the results show that the skill in “describing a reasoning process for constructing scientific explanation” could be more easily developed, and the improvement of skill in “using data as evidence” was the least. The statistical results from a formal epistemology questionnaire show that all students held constructivist epistemological beliefs. However, the findings from practical epistemology interviews and video recordings of inquiry activities reveal that 9 of 23 focus students had empiricist epistemological beliefs, while the others held mixed epistemological beliefs, including both empiricist epistemological beliefs and constructivist epistemological beliefs. In addition, the results of multiple data analyses suggest that students holding mixed epistemological beliefs tended to develop scientific explanation skills more easily than those holding empiricist epistemological beliefs. And according to video recordings of inquiry activities, the development of students’ explanation skills were related to their epistemological beliefs.
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