Ways of Thinking-Scientific Reasoning in the Natural Sciences


Scientific reasoning in the natural sciences (SRNS) is the ability to produce knowledge and draw conclusions about the natural world based upon systematically gathered facts and evidence. SRNS courses facilitate student understanding and application of scientific principles and methods.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  1. Apply the scientific method including hypothesis development, the appropriate collection, analysis, and interpretation of quantitative data.
  2. Use the tools, and methodologies from one or more natural sciences to critically address issues, solve problems, or evaluate information.
  3. Effectively communicate findings using language and conventions of the discipline.

Alignment with LIVE learning outcomes

Critical Thinking: 1, 3
Communication: 2
Information Fluency: 3, 5

Expected Level

Novice Level
1:  We think students should demonstrate they understand the scientific method and can place the steps in proper sequence. This can be tested on an exam.
2:  We think students should be able to correctly follow a step-by-step canned lab, collect data, and be able to find information related to their lab using a data base.
3:  We think that students should be able to correctly solve a problem using a tool (e.g., in physics or chemistry using an equation).

Apprentice Level
1:  We think that students should be able to critique a study in terms of its design and also explain some of the ethical considerations of the given study. We’d need to create a rubric as an assessment tool.
2:  We feel the students should be able to apply the scientific method if given a problem statement. They also should provide a critique of their own experimental design. They should also be able to design a basic lab experiment and do some basic statistical manipulation of their data. They should also be able to find a paper that applies the technique to a current situation. They would have to demonstrate they can evaluate the literature for appropriateness of sources. The output would be a written report or an oral report to help them build communication skills.
3:  We believe the students should correctly apply the tools (e.g., know what equation to use to solve a physics problem).  

Current catalog list of LIVE courses
Problem Solving Rubric for Scientific Reasoning in the Natural Sciences
Scientific Reasoning in the Natural Sciences Learning Outcomes and Rubric