SYLLABUS: SCI 1000C – Scientific Inquiry
General Syllabus and Guidelines for Course
I. Course Description and Rationale
This course will fulfill the core curriculum requirement in
science. It is designed to be taught by faculty from a variety of
different science disciplines.
This course introduces students to the fundamental processes of
science through the exploration of specific topics in modern
science. Offerings will include a number of different
investigations such as astronomy, atomic theory, energy,
biodiversity and global change, evolution, genetics, infectious
disease, plate tectonics and geochronology, and quantum
The principles of active learning infuse the pedagogical
strategies of the course. The overall goal of thinking critically
about science (and by extension other fields as well) is a
multi-stage, multi-faceted process. It requires recognizing the
nature of a problem, questioning its elements, actively
investigating those elements, reasoning through the results of that
inquiry to possible answers, accepting and refining the results of
that reasoning, and finally, acting on that acceptance.
II. Learning Goals and Outcomes
A. Apply knowledge of a specific scientific theme to advance
critical thinking and quantitative reasoning
1. Students will successfully complete assessments which
demonstrate an understanding of discipline-specific knowledge
2. Students will utilize critical thinking skills to identify,
analyze and critique the various points of view of a scientific
3. Students will utilize quantitative measures, such as electronic,
graphical, tabular or numerical methods, to make informed decisions
in a variety of contexts in assessments
4. Students will understand how to differentiate reputable
scholarly sources from popular sources.
Students will demonstrate the ability to effectively find and apply
appropriate scholarly material in class assessments.
B. Analyze the historical development of this theme.
Students will successfully complete assignments which encompass the
historical development of a major concept in this theme.
2. Students will link the latest trends of a topic and current
research to the historic development of this theme.
C. Contrast the attributes of scientific inquiry with those of
other ways of knowing.
1. Students will successfully complete assessments that demonstrate
an understanding of the scientific methods of thinking.
Students will contrast the analytical methods of science to other
ways of knowing such as philosophy, history, art and
3. Students will recognize the collaborative nature of scientific
knowing as a way of extending human knowledge about the
D. Recognize the differences between a well-designed and poorly
1. Students will use course appropriate assignments to demonstrate
an ability to develop a hypothesis and follow an argument to its
2. Students will evaluate experiments to determine their
3. Students will distinguish the effectiveness of a well-designed
versus a poorly-designed experiment in providing needed evidences
to support hypothesis or theory.
E. Analyze societal issues dealing with science in terms of values,
ethics, and responsibilities.
Students will use appropriate assignments to display the
consequences of scientific thinking in relationship to societal
Students will identify relevant societal issues dealing with
science in application to their own lives.
3. Students will understand these issues in terms of values, ethics
III. Core Competencies and Knowledge Bases
Scientific Inquiry as an essential role in developing students’
abilities in the following Core Competencies:
1. Critical Thinking
2. Information Literacy
3. Quantitative Reasoning
It is suggested that the course also nurture students’ Oral
It is essential that the following Core Knowledge
Bases be broadened in Scientific Inquiry:
Processes of Scientific Inquiry
methods of thinking and their limits
of scientific concepts
In addition, it is suggested that the course should include
Vincentian value of respect
Concepts of human nature
The philosophical and religious implications of modern
and effects of science on society
Science within the chronology the key events in the emergence of a
IV. Basic Elements and Approach
No matter what scientific theme is used in Scientific Inquiry,
the elements listed in the outline below should be integrated into
the course outline:
1. Introduction to the Scientific Theme for the Course
2. Introduction to Science as a Way of Knowing: Characteristics
of Scientific Inquiry
a. Hypothesis development
3. What Makes Science Different from Other Ways of Knowing
d. Issues of pseudoscience
4. The Historical Development of This Scientific
a. How concepts changed over time
How a paradigm shift occurred
c. The individuals and groups involved in the research
d. The role of technology in the development of this
5. The Consequences of the Investigation of this Theme
a. How science changed as a result
b. How science can both create and help solve problems
6. The Relation of Science to Society
a. How the culture affects the doing of science
b. How society changed as a result of this scientific
c. How to make decisions based on scientific evidence
d. How science influences public policy
7. The Values, Ethics, and Responsibilities of Science
c. Freedom of inquiry
Tolerance of different opinions
e. Relationship of science and religion
V. Evaluation of Student Performance
Evaluation of student performance will be based upon at least three
of the following numbered assessment methods:
Examinations (will test both content and critical thinking)
2. Presentations for nonscientists
3. Problem solving activities
4. Project reports
5. Writing assignments
VII. Assessment of Course Effectiveness
All students in Scientific Inquiry will be assessed on their
ability to analyze a case study involving a present-day issue in
science that involves critical thinking and information literacy
skills; a pre/post test design will be used.
Carey, S. (2004). A Beginner’s Guide to Scientific
Method. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Lockshin, R. (2007). The Joy of Science. Dordrecht, The
Kuhn, Thomas. (1962). The Nature of Scientific
Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
SHIPS Resource Center for Science Teaching Using Sociology,
History and Philosophy of Science: www1.umn.edu/ships/.
Understanding Science—How Science Really works: undsci.berkeley.edu/.