June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Technological Literacy Constituent Committee
15.195.1 - 15.195.10
ASET 101: Science, Technology and Public Policy Increasing Technological Literacy Among Community College Students
A new course, Science, Technology and Public Policy (ASET 101), has been initiated at Community College of Philadelphia. The course is designed to introduce students to basic scientific principles in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, to show how these principles are applied in areas such as biotechnology, process technology, and nanotechnology, and to explore societal issues related to these technologies. One of the hoped for goals of the course in examining these current technologies is that students will start to develop “technological literacy.”
In a paper discussing an NSF sponsored workshop on technological literacy for undergraduates, Krupczak and Ollis report on efforts to “to identify and define several models of technological literacy courses. Based on a review of courses already developed and comparisons to other disciplines, four candidate standard models were identified: The Technology Survey Course, The Technology Focus or Topics Course, The Technology Creation Course (Design Course), The Technology Critique, Assess, Reflect, or Connect Course.”1
ASET 101 has elements in common with the Technology Focus category in that the course incorporates scientific principles focused on a limited range of technological applications. ASET 101 also shares elements of The Technology Critique, Assess, Reflect, or Connect Course, helping students see the connections between technology and public policy questions.
Technological literacy has been defined as “an understanding of the nature and history of technology, a basic-hands-on capability related to technology, and an ability to think critically about technological development.”2 Providing an explanation and developing an understanding of the basic science and scientific techniques employed in the application of these technologies touches upon the first part of this definition. Using that background to make and support a personal decision regarding the use of these technologies would address the third part and what is probably the most critical part of the definition. It is essential that “ordinary citizens [are able] to make thoughtful decisions on issues that affect, or are affected by, technology.”3 “Science and technology are so pervasive in modern society that students increasingly need a sound education in the core concepts, applications and implications of science” 4 in order to function as citizens in a democratic society charged with making long-term decisions on these emerging technologies.
While the technological literacy focus of this course is critical, greater impact is achieved if the content is effectively communicated, can reach a broad audience and is easily sustainable over time. Thus, in addition to discussing the content of ASET 101, we will also discuss the active learning pedagogy utilized. Moreover, we will discuss how issues of reaching a broad audience and sustainability were dealt with by addressing issues of institutional context in the design of the course. Finally, we consider possible measures to determine the success of the course’s goals.
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