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Investigating Undergraduates' Perceptions of Science in Courses Taught Using the CREATE Strategy.

ABSTRACT: Many science educators agree that 21st century students need to develop mature scientific thinking skills. Unsurprisingly, students' and experts' perceptions about the nature of scientific knowledge differ. Moreover, students' naïve and entrenched epistemologies can preclude their development toward "thinking like scientists." Novel teaching approaches that guide students toward more mature perceptions may be needed to support their development of scientific thinking skills. To address such issues, physics educators developed the Colorado Learning Attitudes About Science Survey (CLASS), subsequently adapted for chemistry and biology. These surveys are "designed to compare novice and expert perceptions about the content and structure of a specific discipline; the source of knowledge about that discipline, including connection of the discipline to the real world; and problem-solving approaches" (Semsar et al., CBE Life Sci. Educ. 10:268-278; p 269). We used CLASS-Bio to track students' perceptions of science in separate first-year and upper-level CREATE (Consider, Read, Elucidate hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, Think of the next Experiment) electives, hypothesizing that perceptions would become significantly more expert-like across a semester. Both first-year and upper-level cohorts made significant expert-like shifts. Students also made significant critical thinking gains in CREATE courses. Our findings of more mature, expert-like perceptions of science post-course contrast with those of previous studies, where students' thinking became significantly less expert-like across a term of introductory instruction and changed little in upper-level biology electives. Augmenting traditional biology curricula with CREATE courses could be an economical way to help undergraduates develop more mature views of science.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5969439 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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