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Title:Scientific literacy: a multi-disciplinary explication and empirical study of the conceptions of science graduate students
Author(s):Silliman, Christina Ann
Advisor(s):Lindgren, Robb; Hug, Barbara
Contributor(s):Heath, Katy
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Scientific literacy
Science education
Abstract:In the literature there are myriad definitions and conceptions of what it means to be scientifically literate (SL), resulting in an amalgam of prescriptions, aims, objectives, and learning goals all falling under the same umbrella term. What is missing is a systematic explication of this complex concept, stemming from its two constituent parts: science and literacy. Chapter one examines the natural intersections between science and literacy to build a theoretical typology of the components that define SL. Chapter two utilizes this typology to analyze the definitions individuals use in practice, or their practical definitions of SL, to understand the relationship between how SL is conceptualized in theory versus in practice. This analysis focuses on graduate students in the sciences and in science education, as these individuals are in a position to impact public understanding of science through both formal and informal educational settings, as well as dissemination of scientific information through broader impacts and outreach. Nine total participants responded to an open-­‐ended web-­‐based survey asking them to define science, literacy, and SL both explicitly and implicitly. These results are compared to the theoretical typology as well as all relevant literature that elicits individuals’ definitions of scientific literacy. Consistent with the prior literature, there is a large focus on the content of science, but only as it can be applied to one’s life. While there are many similarities between theoretical and practical definitions of SL there are also large, holistic differences between the two. For science graduate students, practical definitions of SL have a much greater focus on the scientific enterprise, with less of a focus on literacy or the intersection with other domains. This is much less balanced than the theoretical definitions in the literature. Further, the number and type of components included in practical definitions of SL vary widely by individual. This could have large implications for what is communicated to the public about science, and what is emphasized in educational settings; conflicting messages about what science is or entails could have large impacts on public understanding of science.
Issue Date:2017-04-13
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Christina Silliman
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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