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Defining Scientific Literacy. National Science Education Standards.

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national science education standards
National ScienceEducation 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Common Elements
  • content knowledge
    • facts
    • vocabulary
    • concepts
  • skills
    • manipulative
    • intellectual
  • dispositions
    • attitudes
    • behaviors
what is worth knowing
What is worth knowing?
  • personal needs
  • societal needs
  • global needs
how should one think
How should one think?
  • logically
  • independently
  • objectively
  • skeptically
  • critically
  • rationally
benefits of sl
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
The Problems:

Science teachers not oriented toward achieving SL emphasize:

  • answers over questions
  • memory over thought
  • recitation over argument
  • reading over doing
teaching problems
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
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
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
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.