Last month, we focused on articles and ideas regarding the importance of scientific literacy, answering the questions: what is scientific literacy, who needs it, and why? This month, we focus on the question of how to improve scientific literacy.
Thinking scientifically does not come naturally, even to scientists. However, scientists have the luxury of years of training. How can someone who doesn’t have endless time to devote, and who is not daily in an environment that requires scientific thinking, become scientifically literate? Answering this question becomes even more difficult, if we reflect on the current status of public education funding, and thus that many of today’s students do not have access to sufficient scientific literacy training in school.
Aside from the above problems, even if we had endless resources and time for teaching scientific literacy, what is the best way to do it? This question is being tackled by a variety of new disciplines and professions, including science communication, learning science, and the science of science education. Indeed, a number of people at our own UW Madison study this issue, including faculty in Educational Psychology, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and the Life Sciences Communication Department, as well as in campus institutes like WISCIENCE, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and the Holtz Center. The sheer number of people and institutes devoted to this issue at UW Madison is representative of the increased efforts across the country to answer this how question.
Thus, this next month, look for articles on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn page with #ScienceLiteracy, as we investigate others’ answers to this month’s question: How Do We Improve Scientific Literacy?