Science Courses for Nonscience Majors: How Much Impact Can One Class Make?

David Reed Department of Atmospheric Science, and Program in Ecology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming

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Mark Lyford Department of Botany, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming

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The life science program at the University of Wyoming provides introductory and advanced courses for students throughout the University of Wyoming colleges, including courses for nonscience majors. With the fairly low number of total required science courses for nonscience majors many instructors of courses for nonmajors develop course goals to engage students in learning about science that is relevant to their lives, explore how science works, and demonstrate the connections between science and society. The desired goal is to educate students who are better able to make informed decisions in their general lives, the marketplace, or the voting booth. However, many current relevant issues, such as climate change, are difficult to cover in a traditional discipline based science course because of the interdisciplinary nature of the topics. To address this, an integrated freshmen-level science course was developed at the University of Wyoming and, during each semester, students complete surveys to gauge their attitudes about science and expectations about the course. Survey results from this course show a surprisingly large increase in student comfort in science that persists beyond the end of the course, while at the same time their expectations for their grade in the course dropped. The authors' findings show that one science course can be contentrigorous while also helping to change how nonscience majors think about and interact with science in their lives outside of this course.

*CURRENT AFFILIATION: Department of Physics and Astronomy, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania E-mail: reedda@dickinson.edu

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: David Reed, Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071 E-mail: dreed12@uwyo.edu

The life science program at the University of Wyoming provides introductory and advanced courses for students throughout the University of Wyoming colleges, including courses for nonscience majors. With the fairly low number of total required science courses for nonscience majors many instructors of courses for nonmajors develop course goals to engage students in learning about science that is relevant to their lives, explore how science works, and demonstrate the connections between science and society. The desired goal is to educate students who are better able to make informed decisions in their general lives, the marketplace, or the voting booth. However, many current relevant issues, such as climate change, are difficult to cover in a traditional discipline based science course because of the interdisciplinary nature of the topics. To address this, an integrated freshmen-level science course was developed at the University of Wyoming and, during each semester, students complete surveys to gauge their attitudes about science and expectations about the course. Survey results from this course show a surprisingly large increase in student comfort in science that persists beyond the end of the course, while at the same time their expectations for their grade in the course dropped. The authors' findings show that one science course can be contentrigorous while also helping to change how nonscience majors think about and interact with science in their lives outside of this course.

*CURRENT AFFILIATION: Department of Physics and Astronomy, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania E-mail: reedda@dickinson.edu

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: David Reed, Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071 E-mail: dreed12@uwyo.edu
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