This Fall, four WSU UCORE science courses are piloting the Science Literacy Concept Inventory (SLCI) to gauge students’ grasp of science literacy. Science literacy, one of WSU’s Seven Learning Goals of the Baccalaureate, refers to an individual’s understanding of scientific concepts as a tool to guide decision-making, participation in civic affairs, economic productivity and global stewardship.
What is SLCI? SLCI measures students’ understanding and misconceptions of 12 basic science literacy concepts (PDF). The SLCI has been validated and used at universities across the nation. Rather than focusing on content from one discipline, it takes a multi-disciplinary approach in order to measure science literacy among both science majors and non-majors. Wrong answers on the SLCI reveal students’ common misconceptions about science, information which can be used to direct and improve teaching related to science literacy. For example, responses to SLCI of students in a particular course may reveal that many students hold a misconception that human perceptions alter physical laws. Armed with this knowledge, the instructor could aim instruction at improving students’ understanding of how science rests on physical laws that are unchanged by public opinion or perception.
Over 800 WSU students in lower division UCORE science courses are participating in the pilot this Fall. In the Spring, additional course instructors, including those in upper division courses and additional UCORE courses, will join efforts to pilot science literacy assessment using SLCI. For additional information, see Science Literacy Concept Inventory or contact the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning.