Education

Science Illustrated

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Science  03 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6068, pp. 505
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6068.505-c
CREDIT: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

U.S. college freshmen aspiring to a career in science often lose their enthusiasm. One cause may be introductory courses lacking an integration of the scientific process. If textbooks emphasized the diverse paths by which scientific discoveries are made, instead of simply stating outcomes derived from these discoveries, undergraduates Might view science as a creative endeavor and decide to stick with it. Duncan et al. examined figures in six introductory biology textbooks published in 2008 and tallied the number of figures presenting descriptive information (such as illustrations of ribosomal subunits) versus the number that illustrated a multistep process. On average, multistep scientific investigations were presented in fewer than 5% of the hundreds of figures in each book. The authors argue that this may contribute to a lack of appreciation of the nature of science by students. Shifting the balance of illustrations in scientific textbooks toward those presenting the design and interpretation of models, experiments, and field studies, and inclusion of the unexpected twists and turns involved in scientific discovery, could help undergraduates maintain their interest in scientific careers.

J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. 12, 143 (2011).

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