Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:50 AM


MARQUEZ, L. Lynn, Earth Sciences, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, PO Box 1002, Millersville, PA 17551-0302,

General education science courses claim to engage students in the scientific method allowing students to investigate and apply scientific concepts and theories so that they better understand the process and meaning of science. But do they? How does one accomplish this charge with 150 (or more) students? This session explores instructional strategies that effectively convey not just Earth Science content but also the process and nature of science. Pre- and post-course Nature of Science surveys were administered in two general education geology courses ESCI 102 Origin and Evolution of the Earth and ESCI 221 Physical Geology as well as a general education freshmen seminar UNIV 103 Scientific Revolutions. The pre-test was administered the first day of the semester and post-test surveys were administered either at the end of the semester or as specific questions on regular exams. Pre-test results indicate that general education students have little understanding of what science is and how it differs from other disciplines. Greater than fifty percent of students in any class were unable to simply articulate one basic tenet of science as a discipline. Post-course surveys indicate that students developed a much better understanding of how science differs from other disciplines, how scientific ideas are developed through time, and how scientists employ terms such as theory and law. Specific instructional strategies implemented to better convey the nature of science to general education students include: in-class “thinkers” requiring students to correlate observations and theories, weekend essays asking students to comment on how scientists solve a problem, outside readings and reflections on the nature of science, an on-line “connections” journal asking students to connect some aspect of the course content to real life, and peer-led on-line discussions about earth science in the news.