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Abstract

Five teachers were interviewed as to their perceptions of the effect of an intervention to teach scientific literacy on learning in subsequent biology courses. The sample consisted of 450 students who had a literacy course in ninth grade and had completed tenth-grade biology. At the end of the academic year the biology teachers were interviewed and asked to compare the biology students who had the literacy course to students they had taught in earlier years. The biology teachers concluded that the literacy course did have an effect on students' subsequent ability to learn biology. The strength of the effect varied according to level of biology. Students had a better understanding of the nature of science and better laboratory and process skills. They were also better at analyzing data. The advanced and intermediate biology students were more creative, more likely to take risks, and engage in hypothetical thinking than other groups of students that the teachers had taught. Although the purpose of the literacy course was to teach literacy skills the advanced students retained a substantial amount of content material that was applicable to biology.