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Becoming Scientifically Literate: Developing Epistemic Practices through Reading Scientific Papers

The Science Teacher—January/February 2024

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To help students confront pseudoscientific claims and misinformation in their everyday lives, it is important to develop the epistemic practices of scientists in the classroom. Many of these practices can be illuminated by challenging students to read primary source literature. This article outlines a lesson that has sophomore students reading review and research articles on a pertinent topic. While reading, students think like scientists to extract main ideas, analyze bias, and justify claims with evidence. The papers themselves, as well as the steps employed in the classroom to support students in reading them, highlight the fact that scientists regularly utilize statistics and data, develop a strong theoretical knowledge-base prior to forming conclusions, and seek out critique of their work. Students read these papers collaboratively, working together with one another and with upperclassmen peer mentors to engage in scientific discourse and solidify their understanding of the process of science. This experience challenges students to think as scientists do and provides them with a strong foundation for scientific literacy, preparing them to make more informed decisions about their futures.

Instructional Materials Literacy Preservice Science Education Teacher Preparation Teaching Strategies High School

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