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Scientific Literacy: Conceptual Overview

Scientific Literacy is a term that has been used since the late 1950’s to describe a desired knowledge about something related to science on the general public. In the history of science education there has been at least nine separate and distinct goals of science that are related to the goals of scientific literacy. In the history, it has been argued that instead of defining scientific literacy as prescribed learning and outcomes, scientific literacy should be conceptualized broadly enough for both local and international schools and classroom teachers should fit their goal for their particular situations with the content and methodologies for them and their students, with this the public understanding and appreciation of science will be broad enough than just aiming at increasing scores on international test of science knowledge.

A broad approach to scientific literacy would free teachers and students even public persons to develop a wide range of innovative responses to an increase understanding of science. ©2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

J Res Sci-Tech 37 582-601,2000.

The goal of science education curriculum is to provide an opportunity for those learners to use their learnings and understanding on the concept of science in the public debate, and balanced the information and decision about socioscientific issues affecting their life (America Association for the Advancement of Science, 2000). Robert (in Dawson and Venville, 2009) explained that scientific literacy is the value of the students for life, no matter what the career and the scientific needs they will take in conditions on how they use their learnings.

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Individuals who are literate can be described as being able to resolve practical or simple problems just like health and survival; they can be able to participate in debates and decision making in social practices; and get motivated to find out that science is the product of human effort in cultural practices (Shen and Dawson and Venville,2009). Christenson et al. (2013) considered that scientific literacy was related to the society preparation for the future for collective decisions regarding on socio-scientific issue. Scientific literacy according to the study is the root of the progressive change of science education (Sadler and Zadler, 2009).

According to Hayat and Yusuf (2006) school learning environment and atmosphere affected students’ literacy score variations. Other factors like school infrastructure, human resources and school organization and management also influenced significantly on students’ literacy achievement. Firman (2007) also revealed that the low level of scientific literacy is closely related to the gap between applied science teaching in schools and the demand of PISA. Based on some of research results, the majority of scientific literacy development is through learning process of the students. However, the researchers tried to explore the development of students’ scientific literacy through learning by using scientific literacy-based model, discovery model was selected for its inquiry in the learning steps. The inquiry steps was suitable to train competence / domain of scientific literacy. It is being selected because it was able to develop the students’ critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are important aspects that affect students’ literacy skills.

Scientific literacy is the wisdom and understanding of the scientific concepts and processes including personal decision making, participation on civic and cultural affairs, and economic use in productivity. In the National Science Education Standard (NSES), scientific literacy means that a person can ask, determine the answer to the given question out of curiosity about everyday experiences and find. It means that a person has the ability to explain, describe, and also predict. It entails being able to read with a concept of understanding on what is reading regarding on science and social conversation about the validity of the conclusion. This helps develop critical thinking, reasoning, and decision-making skills. Science requires also technical skills to procedures used in disciplines, such as determining the concentration of a dissolve substance in terms of the smallest amount of reagent of known concentration required to bring about a given effect in reaction with a known volume of the test solution in chemistry or using a spring scale in physics.

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Scientific Literacy: Conceptual Overview. (2020, Nov 29). Retrieved from

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