Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM
LESSONS FROM THE PRINCETON SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING EDUCATION INITIATIVE: ASSESSING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY LITERACY ACROSS THE CAMPUS
The Science and Engineering Education Initiative at Princeton University aims to inspire and prepare all undergraduates, irrespective of their majors, to become scientifically and technologically literate citizens and decision-makers. The Initiative involves revising and creating introductory science and engineering courses, including geoscience courses, that emphasize the role of science in society. Teaching specialists that have experience as college faculty are leading the on-the-ground effort to find and transform courses, identify science skills that we want students to achieve at Princeton, and assess whether the courses help students achieve these skills. A challenge in our initiative is assessing areas of science and engineering literacy that need improvement but are not being sufficiently addressed in our courses. Results of a pre- and post-semester survey of students' attitudes towards science and engineering indicate our courses lead to some areas of significant improvement (e.g., the students’ confidence in critiquing articles in the media), but also areas of little change or declining attitudes (e.g., the students' opinion about whether science and engineering courses should be required). Separating the results by major indicates some intriguing differences. For example, a lower percentage of natural science majors view creativity as part of solving science and engineering problems than humanities majors do. These results provide targets for course revisions in the future, including changes to geoscience courses on natural disasters and climate change.