Studies by education researchers indicate that to learn science concepts well, students must confront their preconceptions of how the universe works, compare these with what they glean from books and hands-on experiments, and then discuss discrepancies among themselves and with teachers. Often, however, textbooks and classroom activities don't allow for such analysis or reflection, and instead, simply present statements, questions, and experiments with little view of "the big picture."
For students to have the time needed to acquire essential knowledge and skills of science literacy, the sheer amount of material that today's science curriculum tries to cover must be significantly reduced.� Effective education for science literacy requires that every student be frequently and actively involved in exploring nature in ways that resemble how scientists themselves go about their work.
But for the most part, the nation's curricula, textbooks, and teaching continue to lack focus and emphasize quantity over quality, often emphasizing the learning of answers and memorization more than the exploration of questions, and reading rather than doing. They fail to encourage students to work together, to share ideas and information freely with each other, or to use modern instruments to extend their intellectual capabilities.
In a classroom where science literacy is the goal, teaching should take its time. In learning science, students need time for exploring, making observations, taking wrong turns, testing ideas, doing things over again, asking, reading, and discovering – not just memorizing scientific facts.
Interested in more? Check out these additional resources!
Science literacy for all: an achievable goal
This research article from Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science makes the case for why education reform is so important, based on what we know of how students best learn science.
Workshops and resources for teachers
Project 2061 of the American Associations for the advancement of science offers workshops
http://www.project2061.org/workshops/default.htm that help teachers understand how students learn so that they can become more effective educators. The National Science Teachers Association
http://www.nsta.org also offers professional development opportunities focused on student learning. And the National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science
http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/ncisla/research/index.html offers other information on research identifying how students learn mathematics and science ideas with understanding.