Impact of a First Year Seminar in Science on Undergraduate Students’ Views on the Nature of Science

By Gulnur Birol, Alice Cassidy, Joanne Fox and Thomas James Deane.

Published by The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

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Published online: May 19, 2014 Free Download

Through a writing-intensive first year science seminar course, students at the University of British Columbia explore the nature of science and the role science plays in society. We investigated the change in first year science students’ views on the nature of science (NOS) using a validated survey - Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry (SUSSI). Administered as a pre/post-test, we found that students demonstrated significant improvements in their overall views of the nature of science. We have found that a first year seminar course with carefully designed and targeted in-class activities that align with the concepts addressed in all six SUSSI categories is an effective way to engage students in their learning and to deepen their views about NOS.

Keywords: First Year Seminar, Views on the Nature of Science, Science, Targeted Activities, Engaged Learning

The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning, Volume 20, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.65-83. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 19, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 912.361KB)).

Gulnur Birol

Senior Educational Strategist, Faculty of Science, Science Centre for Learning and Teaching, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Gülnur Birol, PhD, is Strategist, Teaching and Learning Initiatives at the Science Centre for Learning and Teaching at the University of British Columbia. Her interests include improving science education through the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Dr. Alice Cassidy

Course Coordinator for Science 113, Faculty of Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Alice Cassidy, Ph.D. is Course Coordinator for Science 113 at the University of British Columbia. Also a science educator and educational developer, she focuses on active pedagogies, sustainability education and leadership, and students as active collaborators.

Joanne Fox

Senior Instructor, Michael Smith Lab and the Microbiology and Immunology Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Joanne Fox, Ph.D. is Senior Instructor at the Michael Smith Laboratories and in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia. She was part of the course development team, served as the Director of the First Year Seminars (SCIE113) in the Faculty of Science and taught several sections of the courses.

Thomas James Deane

Educational Programmer and Specialist Science Writer, Biology and Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Canada

Thomas completed his Master of Science in Zoology at the University of British Columbia having studied the interactions between invasive plant species in the Okanagan Valley, Canada. His research interests extend to conservation policy. biostatistics, and the way we teach biology to undergraduate students. As a former journalist, Thomas also has a special interest in promoting good communication skills and has recently been developing materials to improve student writing in two science communication/writing courses at UBC.