Views and Value of an Undergraduate General Education on Advancing Student Attitudes and Engagement with Science




science literacy, science education, higher education, liberal education, undergraduate education


The enhancement of science literacy is a longstanding educational goal of liberal education programs. We conducted a mixed methods study to investigate undergraduate student science attitudes and engagement with science, with specific interests on student program (science vs. nonscience), level of study (junior: 1st and 2nd year, vs. senior: 4th+ year), and over a single general education science literacy course (pre vs. post). Data were collected through an online questionnaire (n=272) and semi-structured interviews (n=19). We found that self- assessed science literacy was higher post compared to pre, in senior compared to junior and for science compared to nonscience students. In contrast, interest in learning science topics did not increase pre-post or junior-senior but was high overall. Belief in pseudoscience was also high overall, including senior and science students, groups we expected pseudoscience belief to be lower. This work highlights the need to align science curriculum with student interests while differentiating science from pseudoscience topics.


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Author Biographies

Nicholas Strzalkowski, Mount Royal University

is an Associate Professor at Mount Royal University, cross-appointed in the departments of Biology and General Education. His research interests include the sensorimotor control of human movement and science literacy education. He believes that an undergraduate liberal/general education has great value for individuals and society, a belief that has motivated the current project.

Mandana Sobhanzadeh, Mount Royal Univeristy

is an Associate Professor at Mount Royal University in the Department of General Education. Mandana does research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education research, educational psychology, and mathematical physics. She is passionate about undergraduate numeracy and scientific literacy education.