Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 45-2
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


WEISS, Tarin Harrar, Chemical and Physical Sciences, Westfield State University, 577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA 01086 and CHRISTENSEN, David, Biology, Westfield State University, 577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA 01086

We live in an increasingly technological world, which advances as a result of the practices of science. However, science as a discipline is under attack as scientific evidence is being rejected and discarded by persons in power. Now, more than ever, college science courses need to focus student learning on the nature of science(NOS) as a way to instill deeper understanding about the scientific enterprise and its critical value in society. This study reports on the ways that a 6-week summer session course at WSU builds NOS understandings in undergraduates. The course authentically engages students in an on-going state- and federally-supported long-term investigation of Kinne Brook (part of the Westfield River watershed) following stream barrier removal in 2013. Pre- and post-survey data, along with reflective field notes of student activity, and review of student work, show that the 75% field-based course promotes key NOS themes. Students in the course exhibited an understanding and appreciation of; the reliability and tentativeness of scientific knowledge, the use of creative scientific approaches over a single scientific method, their ability to contribute to the advancement of scientific understanding, and how inquiries, observations, and conclusions are influenced by trends, funding, culture, and the researcher’s own experiences. The findings have implications for how semester-long STEM courses can be modified to promote greater NOS learning.