Scientific Literacy and Education

AC1 – Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy;

Scientific literacy is an often-misunderstood term and in recent years, with the increasing demand to make scientific literacy more known in schools, it is more important now than ever to ensure we have the correct understanding of what it means to be scientifically literate. In this assignment, we will go into more depth about what scientific literacy is and how this can be taught is schools; and also, the impacts of a lack of scientific literacy, especially within the media.

Many see scientific literacy in primary school as learning to spell scientific vocabulary or completing a science-based comprehension. However, while these may be useful for scientific knowledge, they do not teach children scientific literacy.

In a book discussing science in education, it is stated that “scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity” (National Research Council, 1996). This means that people who are scientifically literate should be able to apply their knowledge of scientific concepts to everyday life and be able to confidently explain the theory behind these concepts. They also have the responsibility to dispute reports and inaccurate publicising of scientific information.

AC2 – Analysis of an example where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting;

An example of a lack of scientific literacy was a paper written by Dr Andrew Wakefield. He claimed that there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. He stated that the combination of the three viruses contained in the vaccine may overload the body’s immune system and that there was evidence that children’s behaviour changed after getting the MMR vaccine. This led to a range of inaccurate media reporting. In turn, the number of children receiving the vaccine dropped significantly as parents were concerned about the risk of autism. This has resulted in preventable outbreaks of measles, such as one in California in 2014 where schools had to be closed.

However, it has been stated that there is, in fact, no link between MMR and autism. After carrying out a study with around 95,000 children, scientists have discredited the work of Andrew Wakefield after publishing their study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Parents have been reassured that the MMR vaccine is safe for their children. After a hearing at the General Medical Council on 28th January 2010, it was ruled that Wakefield acted unethically in his research.

AC3 – Discussion of how teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy;

It is extremely important for children to be able to gain a good understanding about fair testing. Fair testing allows children to be able to assess and produce accurate results when conducting scientific experiments in the classroom. The concept of fair testing is that only one variable in the experiment is changed at any one time, however, every other variable has to stay the same throughout the experiment. For example, “when testing various brands of kitchen paper to find out which is most absorbent, pupils learn that the size of the sheet of paper and the volume of water used are among the variables that must be controlled if the results are to be accurate” (Inspectorate Evaluation Studies, 2008). Therefore, fair testing in school science has an impact on scientific literacy, as it is important that children understand that changing a variable has an impact on the outcome of the experiment and will allow them to have a greater understanding of the experiment as a whole. Teaching fair testing allows the children to understand that there are no deliberate advantages or disadvantages within the experiment to any of the variables. Therefore, making the information reliable. Fair testing is linked to scientific literacy as the children will be able to perform the experiment and analyse the results. This will allow greater understanding of specific concepts in depth as they will be able to identify the problems within in the experiment.

References

BBC News (2008) MMR Research Timeline. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1808956.stm (Accessed 9th February 2018)

Inspectorate Evaluation Studies (2008) Science in the Primary School. Marlborough Street, Dublin: Inspectorate, Evaluation Support and Research Unit, p. 4. Available at: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Inspection-Reports-Publications/Evaluation-Reports-Guidelines/Science-in-the-Primary-School.pdf (Accessed: 11 February 2018).

National Research Council (1996) Available from: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/4962/national-science-education-standards

The Guardian (2015) No link between MMR and autism, major study concludes. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/21/no-link-between-mmr-and-autism-major-study-concludes (Accessed 9th February 2018)

The National Health Service (2015) MMR Vaccine. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine/ (Accessed: 9th February 2018)

Emily Henry, Neve Fordyce, Chloe Davidson, Emma Whiteman and Jennifer Laird

Waving 2017 A Goodbye

It is now 2018 and this year promises to bring a very exciting semester with so many opportunities. Although I am looking forward, it is important to look back at 2017 and my very first semester at University. 2017 has been a very hectic, crazy yet fun year. It has brought me a new sense of independence as I begin a new chapter of my life. Leaving home and moving to a new city has to be one of the most scariest things I have ever done in my life, which really says a lot about me. Moving away has allowed me to grow as a person, I have had to become more confident as I am now having to make new friends and face problems as an independent ‘adult’. 2017 meant I left a world of comfort and familiarity to one of complete unknown where a lot of valuable learning would begin take place, so I feel like it is only fair to dedicate a farewell blog to it. My first semester has been extremely interesting and thought provoking from beginning to end. Looking back on what I have learned in the Values and Working Together modules, I believe both modules have allowed me to build a good foundation for my future professional practice. I have developed my own thoughts and opinions as well as learning important theories of practice that will allow me to grow as a reflective practitioner.

When asked to think of an important moment from last semester, I found it hard to pick just one. Both modules, from beginning to end, have impacted my professional development and has sparked the beginning of my process of reflection. The Values module allowed me to explore many topics and issue that society are facing today and how everyone’s values, both personal and professional, can have a major impact on the world around us. I believe that the Values module has changed the way I now look at certain issues and has allowed me to become more informed about the different struggles groups in society face. It has allowed me to explore new interests, develop my own opinions, to have an open mind… to become my own person!

For so long I feel like I have been oblivious to barriers that others face because I do not face them myself. As a woman, I wasn’t fully aware of the barriers that stood in my way, my sister’s way, my mum’s way, my friend’s way and every other girl on this planet way. As someone who is white, female and straight I wasn’t fully aware of the barriers those of different race, gender and sexuality faced. How they had to behave differently because of harsh criticism and opinions from others in society. The Values module has been an over due wake up call for me, it is time I start to look at the world and people around me. I believe that the Values module has been extremely beneficial as I am now developing both my personal and professional values and opinions. Values are at the centre of teaching. It is how we treat others in our classrooms and in our schools. To be able to support and educate a child in the 21st century, it is extremely important to have professional values to allow a child to grow and to develop their own beliefs and opinions. As educators, we need to be much more aware of the issues that groups in society face and how that can affect a child in school.

The Working Together module has allowed me to begin to understand how inter-professional collaboration is extremely important and that all three professions (Education, Social Work and CLD) must work together to support every child. From an agency visit, where we discussed collaborative working, it was clear to see that the work on projects between the three professions, not only benefited and put the child at the centre, but also helped support many families and helped develop the community. It is extremely important for professionals to put their differences aside to come together for a child and the child’s family. The Working Together module has allowed me to look at and use different types of theories of reflection. This has helped me to be able to reflect and measure my learning throughout the first semester, which will be beneficial to take forward into my future profession as well.  Working Together has highlighted that it is important to be a reflective practitioner throughout my time at University and my future career. It is the only way I will be able to fully support the children I will teach and make sure that both the children and I will benefit from this and be given many opportunities.

Overall, I believe that 2017 and semester one have given me a lot of food for thought. I believe that both modules were a great way to begin my future practice with. I have gained so much new and important knowledge that I will bring forward in future practice and I feel like my mind has become more open because of it. 2018 brings a new adventure and sense of excitement and I look forward to developing my knowledge and reflection skills throughout the remainder of my course and on placement.