Science Literacy at WSU: Assessing and Improving Student Learning (UCORE)

At WSU’s annual Showcase, one of ATL’s assessment specialists, Briana Morrison, presented WSU UCORE’s framework for assessing and improving science literacy. WSU defines science literacy as a “basic understanding of major scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic affairs, economic productivity and global stewardship.” Citizen-level science literacy involves being able to use scientific reasoning, assess the quality of sources of scientific information, understand the nature of scientific evidence and processes, and recognize how science literacy affects everyday life. WSU’s faculty members view scientific literacy as an essential competency that they want all graduates to possess and it is included as one of WSU’s Seven Goals for Undergraduates

WSU wanted to know if graduates, regardless of major, leave WSU with a sufficient level of scientific literacy. To assess students’ science literacy, WSU has been using the Science Literacy Concept Inventory (SLCI) since 2013. The SLCI, which was developed and validated nationally by a multidisciplinary team, measures student performance on twelve science literacy concepts and does not require knowledge in a particular science discipline. Over the past two years, roughly 2900 WSU students in 33 courses have taken the SLCI as part of WSU’s assessment of science literacy.

Instructors desired to use results from the SLCI to inform and improve their science literacy instruction. To facilitate use of SLCI results, instructors meet regularly as part of a Science Literacy Interest Group (SLING) to discuss best practices in science literacy instruction, addressing common misconceptions, and how to apply information learned from the SLCI. SLING is open to all faculty interested in learning more about science literacy.

For additional information, contact ATL.