Learning to Think Like Scientists with the PET Curriculum Documents

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Learning to Think Like Scientists with the PET Curriculum 

written by Valerie K. Otero and Kara E. Gray

Instructional techniques based on research in cognitive science and physics education have been used in physics courses to enhance student learning. While dramatic increases in conceptual understanding have been observed, students enrolled in these courses tend to shift away from scientist-like views of the discipline (and views of learning within the discipline) and toward novice-like views. Shifts toward scientist-like views are found when course materials and instruction explicitly address epistemology, the nature of science, and the nature of learning. The Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) curriculum has specific goals for helping non-science majors explicitly reflect on the nature of science and the nature of science learning. We show that in PET courses with small and large enrollments, shifts toward scientist-like thinking ranged from +4% to +16.5% on the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey. These results are compared to results from other studies using a variety of similar assessment instruments.

Published November 12, 2007
Last Modified December 1, 2010

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