Defining Science Literacy in General Education Courses for Undergraduate Non-Science Majors

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Eleanor V.H. Vandegrift
Ronald A. Beghetto
Judith S. Eisen
Peter M. O'Day
Michael G. Raymer
Nicola C. Barber


This article describes a project focused on identifying science instructors’ conceptions of science literacy and using these conceptions to develop a brief science literacy student self-assessment (SCILIT). We present the rationale and process we used to elicit instructors’ conceptions of science literacy, crafted in a meaningful way with input by faculty and graduate student science experts. Next, we explain how we developed a novel student SCILIT self-assessment based on those expert conceptions. We describe our initial efforts using SCILIT in undergraduate general education science courses to explore students’ self-perceived science literacy. We discuss the use of SCILIT self-assessment to assess potential progression of students’ self-rated science literacy over the course of an academic term, and how this student self-assessment relates to instructor ratings of academic proficiency and science literacy. Finally, we reflect on the use of SCILIT self-assessment to guide instruction and assessment in general education science courses for non-science majors.


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How to Cite
Vandegrift, E. V., Beghetto, R. A., Eisen, J. S., O’Day, P. M., Raymer, M. G., & Barber, N. C. (2020). Defining Science Literacy in General Education Courses for Undergraduate Non-Science Majors. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 20(2).
Author Biographies

Eleanor V.H. Vandegrift, University of Oregon

Associate Director, Science Literacy Program

Senior Instructor, Biology

Ronald A. Beghetto, University of Connecticut

Professor, Educational Psychology

Director, Innovation Center

Judith S. Eisen, University of Oregon

Professor, Biology Deapartment & Institute of Neuroscience

Co-Director of the Science Literacy Program

Peter M. O'Day, University of Oregon

Associate Professor, Institute of Neuroscience

Michael G. Raymer, University of Oregon

Knight Professor, Physics

Nicola C. Barber, University of Oregon

Senior Research Associate, Science Literacy Program

Instructor, Biology


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