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Scientific Literacy

Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for everyday experiences, for example decision making. Scientific literacy allows a person to read or hear an article or newspaper online and decide on its validity. A literate person should be able to evaluate the worth of certain scientific information based on the sources and methods used to produce the conclusion or argument appropriately. It is important for educators to give students the opportunity to develop their understanding of scientific concepts and processes and show how they relate to our society. Without scientific literacy children are more likely to buy into false scientific facts and findings.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, scientific literacy is, “the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions.” (OECD, 2003) Without this there would be no evidential backing to many scientific theories and scientific knowledge. The reason that science, for many people makes sense, is because everything is backed up with evidence and research. However, there are many times in the media where scientific literature is used incorrectly, or even not at all. An article written by Ben Goldacre (2016) explains how many new drug trials and testing do not give an accurate idea of how good the drug is. This is due to a lack of testing and a small amount of people in the trials. Without this explicit scientific data, there is no way a correct conclusion can be made about the new drugs. If proper testing was carried out, there would be a higher chance new drugs would either be more effective or pulled before being released to the public to save people having undue side effects. This also gives people the wrong impression of drug trials, as the lack of concrete scientific evidence means there is no proof, however if this is missed out completely in media then nobody will think bad of it.

How teaching Fair testing in schools links to scientific literacy:

A fair test is an experiment where you change one factor (variable) at a time whilst keeping all other factors and conditions the same. For example, if you are measuring what object travels fastest down a ramp you would only change the object and not the angle of the ramp or the force the object is pushed with.

Fair testing is taught throughout primary school with the help of other science topics. Through this, children develop skills and independence in planning and performing fair tests.

Fair testing is taught throughout the curriculum and not as a separate topic a it involves a variety of skills. Children will use fair testing as a way to investigate questions within every science topic from plants to forces.

Fair testing links to scientific literacy as it shows “knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making” (discover magazine). Children require specific skills to carry out fair testing that shows they have adequate scientific literacy for that stage they are working at.

Science Buddies (Undated) Available at: (Accessed on: 9th February) What is a fair test? (Undated) Available at: (, (Accessed: 9th February)

Kirshenbaum, S (2009) ‘ What is Scientific Literacy?’, Discover (March), Available at: (Accessed: 9th February)

OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] (2003) The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework – Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem-Solving Knowledge and Skills. Paris: OECD.

Goldacre, B. (2016) The Cancer Drugs Fund is producing dangerous, bad data: randomise everyone, everywhere! Available at: (Accessed 11 February 2018).

Resource Allocation Workshop

During our first values workshop the group was split into five tables and each assigned an envelope of resources. The groups were instructed to design something that would help a new student starting at the University of Dundee. Each group pitched their ideas to the remainder of the class and the lecturer. During this our group (group two) noticed that our lecturer seemed to be getting less interested as each group stood up and talked but we thought nothing of this initially.

As the ideas were being pitched it became apparent that not all of the groups had the same amount of resources. For instance, we had various different colours of card, pens, post its, scissors etc, whereas group five had only a few paper clips and some small pieces of paper.

After pitching our ideas each group then made their helpful resource for the new student. Our group made a colour coded personalised timetable as we felt that the timetable was the most difficult aspect to figure out when starting university. Our timetable had a different colour for each module and removable tabs for the classes and events that varied each week. We based the sample timetable on my own as I had the fullest timetable.

In groups, we presented our final design to the rest of the workshop group. Just as the lecturer lost interest in the initial pitching of ideas, she also lost interest as each group presented their resource. It was apparent that the groups presenting later on were feeling unfairly treated.

Finally, Brenda gave our final designs a mark out of 10 and they ranged from group one getting a very high mark to group five getting 1/10. Brenda then went on to explain that she was intentionally acting this way and hoped that none of us were offended.

The workshop taught us that each student should be treated in the same way no matter what their situation is. Just because one person has less to work with does not mean that they deserve less attention or praise. I felt that the workshop was very effective in making us realise that we may act this way unintentionally but we should make an effort to ensure that it does not happen again. All student should be treated as equal to one another.

Welcome to your WordPress eportfolio

Welcome to your ePortfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

The ePortfolio in the form of this WordPress blog allows you to pull in material from other digital sources:

You can pull in a YouTube video:

You can pull in a Soundcloud audio track:

You can upload an image or pull one in from Flickr or any other image sharing site.

Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

You can just about pull in anything that you think will add substance and depth to your writing.