Breakout session B:
Inquiry projects for scientific literacy

Breakout session B
Inquiry projects for scientific literacy

Saturday, November 8, 2003
11:15am - 12:30 pm

Ann P. McNeal, Professor of Physiology, School of Natural Science- Hampshire College

We want our students to become more active, critical thinkers. We would like them to be analytical about data and the inferences from data, to be able to examine evidence critically in real-life situations. Inquiry projects on topics of the students' choosing are a terrific, highly motivational way of teaching applied skills.

This workshop will present techniques for incorporating inquiry projects into introductory or general education science courses. Students can be introduced to inquiry through progressive, structured assignments. Collaborative groups are an excellent venue for this learning. Multiple exposures to such work enable students to become adept at finding evidence and examining it critically. The workshop will give examples and resources for faculty such as: assignments on analyzing published experiments, scoring grids for student responses, "graph dissection" techniques for critical examination of data, and structured reports on inquiry projects.

This approach addresses several of the stated goals:

  • to engage students in inquiry-based learning such that they learn to ask good questions and analyze data critically.
  • to convey "science at the cutting-edge" to undergraduate students in general education programs
  • to respect the increasing diversity of the undergraduate student population, by giving them opportunity to pursue their own questions,

and in addition these techniques

  • provide opportunities for collaborative learning
  • are effective tools both for majors and non-majors.