ERIC Number: ED397887
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-May-28
Scientific Literacy: A Non-Traditional Approach to Science for Students Outside of Technical Fields.
Shotwell, R. Allen
Although the goal of science courses for non-majors should be to increase the scientific literacy of students, many such courses become watered down versions of courses in the major and do not provide enough depth to make science meaningful to students. At the Wabash Valley Region campus of Ivy Tech State College, in Indiana, a project was undertaken to modify a physical science course for non-majors from the traditional survey format to a series of focused issues in science from physics, chemistry, atmospheric science, and astronomy. For each area, background information was provided through lectures and students then formed groups charged with the tasks of gathering more information about the topic; discussing current, related scientific thinking; and determining what sort of actions should be taken as individuals and as a society to respond to the topic. Sample topics included hazardous waste disposal, nuclear terrorism, the greenhouse effect, and extraterrestrial life, and groups were required to make presentations and write summaries of their work. The course sought to minimize traditional lecturing, foster collaborative learning, and strike a balance between informing students and asking them to find information for themselves. In evaluations, student responses were more positive than in traditional courses. Materials on course objectives; the course syllabus and outline; and sample course materials, including an experiment and an exam on nuclear terrorism, are appended. (BCY)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence (Austin, TX, May 26-29, 1996).