The Sciences: Approaches to the Natural World

Ordinarily, the class meets for three 50-minute "lectures" (which in fact include extensive discussion and participatory demonstrations) and a 50-minute "recitation" section in which more individualized hands-on activity can take place. In the "lecture," brief, ungraded pretests or questionnaires provide a window into students' pre-instruction ideas. Sharing the results with the class is a valuable way of promoting group discussion about cognitive and metacognitive issues.

 "Recitation" activities may include:

 - traditional laboratory observation and measurement activities to establish an observational grounding (e.g. spectroscope and microscope observations and cooling curve measurements)

 - thought experiments and critiquing activities done collaboratively in small groups (e.g., a "filling the checkerboard" thought activity addresses questions on exponential growth). In one critiquing activity, students consider criteria by which scientists judge one another, and compare it with everyday levels of scrutiny of information and disinformation, by "refereeing" (as though it were a paper submitted to a scientific journal) an ad placed by a major corporation on an Op-Ed page reporting the results of a survey on whether the U.S. should depend on voluntary measures for energy conservation.

 - computer simulations (e.g., planetary motion from various viewpoints and a simulation involving energy decision-making and its effect on resource depletion).

 Related Literature

 Touger, J. (1981). Energy: Focal Topic for an Interdisciplinary Core Science Course, Proc. Int. Conf. On Energy Ed., 344-6, Univ. Rhode Island.

 Touger, J. (1982). Developing a Core Science Course for a Liberal Arts Curriculum, J. Coll. Sci. Teaching, 11, 289-92.