CAN FOCUSING ON THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN SCIENCE AND SOCIETY IN AN INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY COURSE CHANGE THE WAY STUDENTS PERCEIVE THE RELEVANCE OF SCIENCE?
We investigated the impact of socially focused geoscience content on students’ views about the nature of science and their attitudes about the relevance of science. We adapted materials developed by the InTeGrate project (http://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/index.html) for incorporation into an introductory Physical Geology class (n~90). The Changes in Attitude about the Relevance of Science (CARS) survey and the revised version of the Scientific Attitude Inventory (SAI II) were employed in a quasi-experimental study to measure students’ attitudes in control and treatment versions of the physical geology course. Data were collected from two control semesters of a content-focused physical geology course taught in an active learning format, and then during one treatment semester where 60 percent of the course materials were replaced with socially focused geoscience material developed by the InTeGrate project. The control semesters showed non-significant change in CARS and SAI II scores. However, the treatment semester yielded significant improvements in the CARS survey over time. Our results show evidence that socially-focused geoscience content can positively influence students’ perceptions on the relevance of science.