Toward a theory of learning science for scientific literacy among professional educators.
Author(s)Olson, Daniel Raymond.
KeywordsEducation, Adult and Continuing.
Education, Teacher Training.
Science Study and teaching United States
Educators United States
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AbstractSorry, the full text of this article is not available in Huskie Commons. Please click on the alternative location to access it.
Previous research has indicated that only about six percent of American adults can be classified as scientifically literate. This extremely low percentage of scientific literacy has important implications for society as the technogical revolution continues, forcing citizens to confront public issues that contain scientific components. The research has attempted to assess scientific literacy from the perspectives of the norms and methods of science, cognitive science knowledge, and attitudes toward organized science. This research has identified some contributors to scientific literacy, but has not generated any substantive theories for how adults learn science.The purpose of this study was to examine faculty members' perceptions of scientific literacy and the methods they use to learn science. This was a qualitative study using a discursive approach to generate grounded theory. Questionnaires and interviews were used to gather the data and the computer program AQUAD was utilized to assist in data analysis.The findings from this study indicated that educators have varying beliefs and expectations about scientific literacy. This suggests that assessing the scientific literacy of people by using forced-choice and true-false tests may be inadequate, since the beliefs and expectations of the people designing the tests may be different than the beliefs and expectations of the people being tested.This study also generated an emergent theory for how educators learn science. For faculty members teaching in the general sciences, professional interest in science encourages these educators to continue learning science through continuing science education and the general media. For faculty members teaching in non-science disciplines, non-professional interest in science provides little impetus to pursue science knowledge through continuing science education. Continuing education for these professionals contributes to improving their knowledge and skill in their respective disciplines, but contributes little or nothing to their learning of science. The general media does play a role in contributing to the learning of science by these professionals. Scientific information is available through a variety of media, but these educators' non-professional interest in science often prevents them from advancing their scientific knowledge.