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Paper: Science Literacy's Neglected Twin: Numeracy
Volume: 483, Ensuring STEM Literacy: A National Conference on STEM Education and Public Outreach
Page: 31
Authors: Follette, K.; McCarthy, D.
Abstract: Have introductory astronomy courses moved too far toward qualitative science? By itself, qualitative understanding, even deep appreciation, of the scientific endeavor is insufficient to engender scientific literacy. In order to interpret scientific information encountered in daily life and to distinguish it from pseudoscience, our students must also be quantitatively savvy. A scientifically literate citizen should be able to employ arithmetic, interpret numbers in context, read graphs and tables, and confidently incorporate numbers in writing. A gentle quantitative emphasis permeates our introductory astronomy courses to help our students become aware of their numerical deficits and appreciate the value of numerical thinking. This approach not only helps transform students into more well-informed citizens and capable problem solvers but also helps them achieve a deeper understanding of course material. We present data from an educational study that documents the extent of quantitative illiteracy and shows that improvements in attitude and achievement are possible.
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