Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Abstract Scientific literacy (SL) skills are critical for technically-trained construction professionals who are capable of transforming built environments through strategic decisions based on evidence-based reasoning. While most undergraduate construction curricula are designed to improve SL, no recent study was found to have assessed undergraduate construction students’ SL skills. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to assess the SL attitudes, skills, and self-efficacy of 46 undergraduate construction students. Data was obtained through students’ completion of the standard 28-item Test of Scientific Literacy Skills (TOSLS) instrument; a student self-reporting SL self-efficacy survey; and focus group discussions. Results revealed that despite the overall mean SL self-efficacy score of 3.42 on the 5-point Likert scale, the mean TOSLS test score was 43%. The mean female TOSLS test score was approximately 7% higher than the mean male score; and the mean test score of senior construction students was 19% higher than that of the freshmen. This was statistically significant (p<0.05) and provided an indication that the construction program had somewhat contributed to the improvement of students’ SL skills; however, additional curriculum improvements are necessary to improve SL skills of construction students. The students’ best test performance was related to identifying valid science arguments and evaluating the misuse of scientific data; while their weakest performance was related to their somewhat weak quantitative aptitude. Their TOSLS problem solving quantitative scores were significantly (p<0.001) lower than TOSLS valid scientific argument scores. These results correlated well with departmental data associated with students’ struggles with courses such as ‘Surveying’ that need advanced quantitative skills. Overwhelmingly, construction students had positive attitudes towards science and mathematics, and agreed that these skills are needed for career success. This study demonstrates the need for curriculum improvements that will strengthen the SL skills of construction students. Furthermore, contributions add value to knowledge base necessary to advance construction education research on scientific literacy skill development. Insights provided may be used to guide construction curriculum improvement, with increased emphasis on quantitative skills for solving real-world problems. Strategies such as tutoring, mathematics laboratories, and math placement tests could increase students’ SL skills and better prepare them for careers in the construction industry. In the long-term, a more SL Built Environment workforce will have improved abilities and be better prepared to make evidence-based decisions that will transform global built environments.
Ofori-Boadu, A. N. (2018, June), Board 71: Assessment of Scientific Literacy Skills and Attitudes of Undergraduate Construction Management Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30093
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