Science Literacy at WSU: 2015 Science Literacy Concept Inventory (SLCI) Results

As reported in the 2015 Science Literacy Concept Inventory Summary of Key Evidence for UCORE (PDF), assessment results indicated that, overall, WSU seniors scored higher than freshman on all twelve science literacy concepts (average +13%).

A total of 769 students in 15 courses from the Pullman, Vancouver and Tri-Cities campuses participated in the SLCI in Spring 2015. Results also indicated the most common science misconceptions among WSU students. Top misconceptions were related to being unable to distinguish between science and technology and being unable to recognize basic tenets or assumptions of science. Understanding what misconceptions students hold helps WSU instructors know how to target instructional improvements.

WSU piloted the use of the SLCI in the Academic Year 2013-14 to assess whether the curriculum as a whole is developing scientifically literate students. The SLCI is designed to gauge students’ grasp of science as a way of knowing and of the scientific processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic affairs, economic productivity and global stewardship. SLCI measures students understanding and misconceptions of twelve science literacy concepts (PDF). The SLCI has been validated and used at universities across the nation; it takes a multi-disciplinary approach rather than focusing on content from one discipline.

Over the past two years, roughly 2,900 WSU students in 33 courses on the Pullman, Vancouver, and Tri-Cities campuses have participated in the SLCI as part of WSU’s assessment of science literacy. Overall, seniors have scored higher than freshmen on all twelve science literacy concepts. This difference is true of both science majors and non-majors.

For additional information, see Science Literacy Concept Inventory or contact the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning.