Essays on Science and SocietyIBI* Series Winner

An Inquiry-Based Curriculum for Nonmajors

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Science  27 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6067, pp. 418-419
DOI: 10.1126/science.1213444

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Only 28% of the U.S. adult population is considered scientifically literate. Although this is the second highest among 35 developed countries, a fact attributed to postsecondary science requirements (1), it should not be considered satisfactory, and improvement is critical to our future. A trend of many U.S. colleges and universities is to offer courses for nonmajors that cover a wide range of material via lectures, with few opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning. This is particularly disturbing given that “a growing body of science educators has found that students' attitudes toward science, their motivation for learning, and their conceptual development … can all be enhanced by engagement in real scientific investigations” (2).