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ERIC Number: EJ835811
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Dec
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1479-7860
Biology and Society: A New Way to Teach Tertiary Science to Non-Science Students
da Silva, Karen Burke
Bioscience Education, v12 Article c4 Dec 2008
Science education can be split into two categories: one to provide the basic concepts, knowledge and techniques that students need to follow careers as scientists and the other to provide scientific literacy that will enable students who do not necessarily desire careers in science to be able to understand the world around them. Clearly, courses that aim to provide information for science graduates may not be relevant or of interest to students not planning to become scientists. However, courses that aim to improve scientific literacy would be of value to both groups. Scientific literacy in Europe and the USA is known to be poor, and although tackled at the high school level, may need to be implemented again at the tertiary level in order to have the required effect. Thus, helping students to become interested in, and understand the world around them, to engage in discussion about science, to be sceptical and make evidence-based conclusions, as well as to make informed choices about the environment and their own health, should be of utmost importance and considered as a requirement for all students within the university system. To ascertain the likelihood that students would enrol in a science elective course and to determine whether it is possible to affect scientific literacy, the author developed a course at Flinders University specifically to introduce scientific concepts to students through issue-based teaching. The course was intended to engage both science and non-science students through the presentation of topical science issues by experts in the field. In addition, the assessment component of the course was designed to ensure that students learn to communicate both their depth of understanding and an argued opinion, thereby gaining scientific literacy. The demonstrated outcomes and impacts of this innovation clearly indicate that this approach has made significant inroads to bridging the gulf that has long existed between science and non-science students. The newly developed course "Biology and Society" replaced a more traditional style course that consisted primarily of a lecture series based on the biochemistry of life that was poorly received by students and resulted in a low number of student enrolments. In 2006, the course was fully redesigned and enrolment numbers indicate the change in student interest and response to the course. (Contains 2 figures.
Centre for Bioscience, The Higher Education Academy. Room 9.15, Worsley Building, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT United Kingdom. Tel: +44-113-343-3001; Fax: +44-113-343-5894; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia; United States