Monday, May 4, 2015

Teaching Science So It Sticks

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 4th 2015

Scott Fisher gets a lot of educational mileage from a postcard.
Each quarter Mr. Fisher, a lecturer in astronomy at the University of Oregon, asks students in his introductory course to write to him at his cosmic address. That means not only including his room number here in Willamette Hall and his ZIP code, 97403, but also locating him in the universe.
The extra-credit assignment serves one of Mr. Fisher’s main goals for the course: helping students develop a sense of scale, or what he calls "a cosmic perspective." Along the way, he hopes to firm up their tenuous grasp of scientific reasoning and make them more comfortable with science. That’s the idea behind several revamped courses in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics at Oregon, to raise an often paltry level of science literacy among nonmajors.

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