Using Digital Resources to Support STEM Education

Using Digital Resources to Support STEM Education

Carol Adamec Brown (East Carolina University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3832-5.ch041


Scientists and science educators recommend use of dialog and argumentation to support scientific ideas. Use of peer-reviewed publications, shared data, images, models, and multimedia presentations provide the resources needed to support scientifically based arguments and design of inquiry learning projects. Open source digital resources are freely available for scientists and their students. These provide the rich data needed to educate young scientists and promote digital literacy in the science community. This chapter defines the meaning of science literacy, reviews digital resources recognized by professional scientists, and offers strategies for mapping digital resources to Science education curricular.
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Rodger Bybee (2010), the developer of 5E model for teaching science says one doesn’t study science, one experiences it. Science is something students do, not anything done to them. To be fully engaged in a science lesson, one must also be able to think like a scientist, engage in argumentative learning, and reach a high level of scientific literacy (National Academy of Sciences, 1996). To think and read like a scientist, students must be able to understand the nature of science and read with precision paying close attention to intricate detail. The reader must be able to interpret claims and arguments as well as synthesize complex information. Thinking like a scientist requires investigation, data collection, proposing claims and reporting conclusions. These practices are not complete until the scientist can communicate ideas with clarity and effectiveness. Earlier research in learning and cognition shows the importance of making connections between new ideas and prior knowledge. Mental models, taxonomies, and flowcharts are useful tools for assimilation of new knowledge and accommodating for mis-matches that don’t seem to fit. Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999) distinguish novices from experts with the ability to organize knowledge into systematic categories. An example of this would be DeLuca’s (2011) study on students’ learning and higher order thinking skills based on data analysis of renewable energy sources. The topic of study is a highly relevant social issue situated within systematic data collection. The results of the study suggest the importance of a scientist’s personal reflection combined with application of conceptual/procedural knowledge to authentic problem solving. DeLuca’s study is categorized as a type of disciplined inquiry which is based on the work of Jerome Bruner. Bruner (1977) emphasizes the importance of providing structure built on clear relationships between cultural concepts and scientific ideas. Bruner later refers to this as “disciplined understanding” (Bruner, 1977, p. 122). It is not enough to have factual information. A student’s knowledge must be structured so that he or she can expand understanding within the context of a problem or particular cultural setting. This perspective led to Bruner’s seminal work in discovery learning and later “disciplined inquiry”, (Bruner, 1979, p. 123-124). According to Bruner, a student is motivated to learn based on curiosity and is rewarded by uncovering of answers. Thus it could be said, reading and thinking like a scientist requires the careful organization of facts, figures, and concepts, and construction of new knowledge, all of which undergird scientific literacy.

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