496 Increasing the Scientific Literacy of Introductory Atmospheric Science Students: Course Redesign and Assessment

Tuesday, 8 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Dawn Kopacz, Univ. of Nebraska−Lincoln, Lincoln, NE; and Z. Handlos

Handout (1.8 MB)

The development of scientific literacy has been recognized as fundamental to an undergraduate science education (de Caprariis, 1997; Gormally, 2012; Hazen, 1991; Nuhfer, 2016; Surpless, 2014). There are varying definitions of what constitutes scientific literacy, but most definitions include developing an ability to apply scientific knowledge to real world scenarios. To ensure that general education goals of science courses are being met, many colleges and universities have developed rubrics to assess individual students and/or general education program goals (Reddy, 2010). Despite the growing use of rubrics to assess general education programs, it has been shown that many general education courses are still designed for majors and stress content mastery (Nuhfer, 2016; de Caprariis, 1997). But when utilized as a guide for the structure and content of the course, rubrics have been shown to promote higher order thinking skills and increase student achievement (Reddy, 2010).

In particular, this study reduced the amount of course content covered during a semester-long general education introductory atmospheric science course, and designed the course in a way that students were given adequate time to interpret and apply course concepts. The goal was to show that the course redesign would allow students to not only increase their knowledge of atmospheric science concepts, but also their ability to solve atmospheric science problems and understand the scientific process. To quantify scientific literacy skills, an existing general science education rubric was used to design an scientific literacy assessment tool. This presentation will show how the general education rubric was used for course design and will discuss the development of a scientific literacy assessment tool for atmospheric science. Results from the use of this assessment tool on general education introductory atmospheric science courses at two different institutions will be also be shown.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner