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Disseminating quality controlled scientific knowledge

Transformative undergraduate science courses for non-majors at a historically black institution and at a primarily white institution

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Author(s): Gili Marbach-Ad | J. Randy McGinnis | Rebecca Pease | Amy Dai | Spencer Benson | Scott Jackson Dantley

Journal: Science Education International
ISSN 1450-104X

Volume: 21;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 252;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Non-major science courses | science teacher education | students’ interest | active learning approaches | and diversity

ABSTRACT
We investigated curricular and pedagogical innovations in undergraduate science courses for non-science majors at a Historically Black Institution (HBI) and a Primarily White Institution (PWI). The aims were to improve students’ understanding of science, increase their enthusiasm towards science by connecting their prior experience and interest to the science content, and recruit students, especially from underrepresented groups, to science teacher education. Both courses were developed with the same fundamental principles of teaching for all and connection to student interests. We report on the way we used students’ interest to increase their enthusiasm towards science and how the instructors established linkages between science and teaching, while introducing their students to scientific research (reading the literature, writing mini-research reports and presenting the data in poster presentations). We discuss the way that the PWI and HBI instructors customized their courses to take into consideration the characteristics of the students’ population taking the courses. We assessed our progress in achieving our goals by using researchers’ observations, the instructors’ perspective, students’ feedback, and a reliable and valid survey. Our major insight was that the instructors’ perception of their roles within their contexts (HBI or PWI) mediated the way they designed, implemented, and assessed their learners.
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