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Defining Scientific Literacy National Science Education Standards Scientific literacy requires “knowledge and understand- ing of scientific concepts and processes ... for personal decision making, participating in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.” Project 2061: Science for all Americans “The scientifically literate person is one who is aware that science, mathematics, and technology are interdependent human enterprises with strengths and limitations; understands the key concepts and principles of science; is familiar with the natural world and recognizes both its diversity and unity; and uses scientific knowledge and scientific ways of thinking for individual and social purposes.” Illinois Learning Standards “Science is the quest for objective truth. It provides a conceptual framework for the understanding of natural phenomena and their causes and effects. Among the purposes of the study of science is the development of students who are scientifically knowledgeable, understand that modern technological growth is an outcome of the scientific enterprise; knows the difference between objective fact and subjective values, and can apply scientific thinking and information in problem solving and decision making.” Scientifically Literate? Are we scientifically literate? How many Americans can do what the definitions suggest? Only 6.9% of Americans are scientifically literate at the lowest level – term recognition Per Jon Miller at NIU US Citizens Not SL During March 2010, reporter John Stossel recruited people in Times Square (NYC) to sign a petition banning dihydrogen monoxide. See petition. 80% of those solicited signed the petition to ban – water. The Outlook: In the US 50 - 60 year olds are the most SL: – those 70 - 80 have low rate. – those 20 - 30 have low rate. In foreign countries, SL decreases with age. Implications are profound. Scientific Literacy not easy to define – Dewey all the way down to... – current reform movements several types – cultural or nominal (recognition of terms) – functional (use of scientific/technical terms) – conceptual/procedural (concepts/processes) – multidimensional (nature of science, social context, differentiates science from other ways of knowing) Common Elements content knowledge – facts – vocabulary – concepts skills – manipulative – intellectual dispositions – attitudes – behaviors What is worth knowing? personal needs societal needs global needs How should one think? logically independently objectively skeptically critically rationally Benefits of SL: develop effective solutions to problems foster intelligent respect for nature avoid being prey to dogmatists assess use of new technologies The Problems: Science teachers not oriented toward achieving SL emphasize: answers over questions memory over thought recitation over argument reading over doing Teaching Problems: little metacognition going on teaching versus learning training versus educating failure to determine essential content teaching topically, not thematically focusing on low-order skills poor assessment skills/programs emphasizing breadth over depth Other Problems: Science & math voluntary most pupils take biology in HS 45% take chemistry in HS 23% take physics in HS 10% take no algebra 6% take calculus More Problems: Minorities, girls, and non- college-bound students are under-represented in math/sci Personal relativism has become a societal problem We are all responsible for... the current state of affairs breadth over depth seatwork over activity memorization over critical thinking recitation over well-reasoned argument making necessary changes.
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