AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 88. Undergraduate Astronomy Instruction, Labs and Research
Poster, Wednesday, January 8, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

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[88.14] Using the First-Year English Class to Develop Scientific Thinking Skills

B.J. McNamara, C. Burnham, S. Green, E. Ball, A Schryer (New Mexico State University)

This poster presents the preliminary results from an experimental approach to teaching first-year writing using the scientific method as an organizing theme. The approach presumes a close connection between the classical scientific method: observing, hypothesis forming, hypothesis testing, and generalizing from the results of the testing, and the writing process: inventing and prewriting, drafting, and revising. The project has four goals: 1. To introduce students to the relations between scientific method, academic inquiry, and the writing process; 2. To help students see that academic inquiry, the work of generating, testing, and validating knowledge and then applying that knowledge in real contexts, is actually a hybrid form of the scientific method; 3. To encourage students to connect the work they are doing in the writing classroom with the work they are doing in other classes so they can transfer the skills learned in one context to the other; and 4. To cause students who have previously been alienated by science and science teaching to reconsider their attitudes, and to see the powerful influence of science and scientific thinking in our world. In short, we are teaching science literacy in a humanities classroom. The materials we use include science-based reading and the kinds of writing typically required in science classes. The poster presents the basic premises of the project, samples of class materials, and preliminary results of a controlled pre- and post-test of student attitudes toward science and writing, analyzed especially according to gender and minority status. We also present insights by participating instructors including a female graduate teaching assistant who had been trained as a scientist and a male who had not.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #4
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