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Assessment of Scientific Reasoning as an Institutional Outcome

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Conference Proceedings

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U.S. Air Force Academy Air Force Academy United States

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The US Air Force Academy has established 9 institutional outcomes, each of which is assessed by a team of 5-10 faculty and staff members with expertise in the outcome domain. Student achievement of the Scientific Reasoning and Principles of Science was assessed in the 2012-13 academic year by sampling 203 students distributed across freshmen-to-senior class years. Two assessment instruments were used a and in-house survey of student understanding of the Nature of Science, and b the Lawson scores between the sophomore and junior years. Student understanding of the Nature of Science did not differ by program of study, but students in the basic sciences and engineering scored significantly higher than students in the humanities on the scientific reasoning assessment. Overall, students were weakest when answering questions related to a proportional reasoning, b isolation of variables, and c if-then reasoning. These findings are being incorporates into redesign of the core curriculum to enhance continuity among science courses in presenting the Nature of Science, and coordination among basic sciences course directors to align efforts to teach scientific reasoning.

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