Nurturing Scientific Literacy for All Undergraduates via Science Classics
Refereed conference paper presented and published in conference proceedings



摘要Nurturing scientific literacy for everyone, not just for science students, has been one of the focuses in educational reform in the recent decades. While scientific literacy has various definitions, there are two important dimensions: one is on the understanding of the science and technology enterprise and its relationship with the public; another is to develop generic skills and knowledge, such as critical thinking skills and self-learning skills. These two dimensions can be considered as crucial knowledge and skills that every responsible citizen in the 21th century should obtain.
However, it is often a challenge to design a curriculum for nurturing scientific literacy that serves the needs of both science and non-science students. On one hand, non-science students would usually found the quantitative aspects of science daunting and boring. On the other hand, teaching only the qualitative aspects of the nature of science may not necessarily be appealing to the science students. The diverse needs are widened further for higher education settings as their prior knowledge are even more specialized. In this paper, we suggest that reading science classics and discussing about them can be a suitable middle ground for putting these two extreme kinds of students together in a compulsory course that aims to nurture scientific literacy for several reasons. First, science classics encompass enduring questions that are common to all human beings, regardless of their disciplines and backgrounds. Second, science classics provide opportunities for the students to explore the relationship between science and the livings, cultures and religions of the society. Third, reading science classics develop an awareness of great people and great ideas, which is in itself a strong enough reason to demand those students having no interest in science to participate. Fourth, using primary literature has unique potential to instruct students on the nature of scientific reasoning and communication.
We evaluated the effectiveness of such a classics-reading course. The sample consist of the students who studied the compulsory course In Dialogue with Nature offered by the Chinese University of Hong Kong that aims to nurture scientific literacy for every undergraduate, including both science and non-science students. A total of 1823 students were successfully tracked. The performance of the students is evaluated by the entry and exit surveys as well as their academic grades. Factor analysis is used to extract hidden factors. Samples are then divided into students of science and non-science background for further analysis.
The result is that both the science and non-science students have gained significantly in all the factors related to the intended learning outcomes of the course. The non-science students, in particular, close the gap from the science students in their appreciation and understanding of science significantly. This is encouraging as it is often the case that, the non-science students are considered to be harder to nurture. The whole study seems to support the view that cultivating scientific literacy for every students in higher education setting can be achieved via the classics reading approach.
著者Kiang Kai Ming
會議名稱International Science Education Conference 2018
關鍵詞Science Education, Scientific Literacy, General Education

上次更新時間 2018-10-12 於 09:09