Education in science is vital not only for continuing advances in discovery and technology but also for shaping the economy, public policy, and international relations. All citizens therefore ought to understand something of science, including the thinking skills that allow the individual to judge what to believe or what to do. However, science is often taught as facts rather than a way of thinking. Opportunity to counter “science as facts” arises from the use of “Web 2” public electronic communication tools. Because these are shared and constantly accessible they allow collaborative work to develop over time; this is useful for considering complex topics such as thinking. This paper reports an exploratory study with two aims: (1) to evaluate the use of blog discussion as a means of learning parallel to traditional teaching; and (2) to measure the effect of blogging about critical and scientific thinking on students’ ability to explain and use them. A 9-week, researched, guided electronic discussion (blog) was added to the usual pedagogies in freshman non-majors’ science classes. The pretest-posttest design was applied to a treatment and a control group, and rubrics were used to measure the ability to synthesize a written explanation of scientific thinking and to apply key features of scientific inquiry in a “real world” task. The conclusions are (1) blogging is a popular and effective means of promoting research and discussion outside the classroom; and (2) blogging significantly increased the experimental group’s ability to explain scientific and critical thinking, but not to apply scientific thinking to experimental design. If specific learning outcomes are expected, guidance to specific resources should be provided.
|Keywords:||Science Literacy, Blogs as Learning Tools, Web 2 Technologies, Non-major Science|
Professor, Life Science, Science, Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio, USA