Salvaging science literacy

Authors

  • Noah Feinstein

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    • Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
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Abstract

There is little evidence that the prevailing strategies of science education have an impact on the use and interpretation of science in daily life. Most science educators and science education researchers nonetheless believe that science education is intrinsically useful for students who do not go on to scientific or technical careers. This essay focuses on the “usefulness” aspect of science literacy, which I contend has largely been reduced to a rhetorical claim. A truly useful version of science literacy must be connected to the real uses of science in daily life—what is sometimes called public engagement with science. A small number of science education researchers have already begun to connect science education and the broader field of public engagement with science. Their work, as well as the work of researchers who study public engagement, suggests that it is possible to salvage the “usefulness” of science literacy by helping students become competent outsiders with respect to science. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed95: 168–185, 2011

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