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Washington State University
UCORE: University Common Requirements Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Inquiry in the Natural Sciences [BSCI, PSCI]

Course designator within the area of Inquiry: Ways of Knowing

Science is an approach to asking and answering questions about the natural world that values empirical observation as a key foundation for developing theories that explain observations. Science articulates the processes that underlie the world around us. Inquiry using a scientific framework draws upon empirical observations (including experimentation), drawing logical conclusions supported by the evidence, and articulating an evidence-based argument to advance those conclusions within the scientific community. For conclusions to be accepted, they must be corroborated by others and make accurate predictions, and yet, scientific inquiry is an ongoing cycle, constantly developing more useful, accurate and comprehensive models and methods.

* Students take one BSCI course (3-4 cr.) and one PSCI course (3-4 cr.), where one of those courses has a lab. Students in Colleges of Arts and Sciences take one additional lab credit of BSCI or PSCI for a total of 8 Natural Science credits (including 2 labs).

⇒ View approved BSCI and PSCI courses

Required Elements for all Natural Science Courses

All Inquiry in the Natural Sciences Courses are required to:

  • Meet the basic requirements for all UCORE courses: written communication, critical and creative thinking, information literacy, and assessment / evidence of student progress toward learning goals.
  • Meet requirements for UCORE inquiry courses.
  • Actively engage students in exploring the evidence underlying key theories and/or organizing frameworks in the course’s field and help students to articulate the logical inferences that arise from those observations that support the theory/framework, including the role of controlled experiments in the scientific process.
  • Provide a foundation for students to practice the critical evaluation of positions and arguments made about scientific claims.
  • Emphasize both factual information and the process of science as a discipline in order to help students develop a knowledge-based framework by which to evaluate scientific claims.
  • Enhance a student’s understanding of natural phenomena and provide the more-widely applicable skill sets of logical and critical thinking.

Also, the UCORE committee suggests that Inquiry in the Natural Sciences Courses:

  • Use interactive, student-centered activities focused on questioning, exploring, and posing hypotheses.
  • Stress that the scientific process is an open-ended exploration rather than a search for provable facts.

Required Learning Outcomes Grid

Whether submitting a course for the first time or resubmitting an updated course as part of the UCORE committee’s periodic re-review, faculty should submit a completed BSCI/PSCI Learning Outcomes Grid embedded in the course syllabus in order to demonstrate clearly the relationship among WSU/UCORE learning goals, UCORE category designation learning outcomes, course learning outcomes, assignments, and assessment of student learning. Consult the sample ROOT syllabus with embedded learning outcomes grid as a model.