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Nanoscience for All: Strategies for Teaching Nanoscience to Undergraduate Freshmen Science and Non-Science Majors

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As the field of nanoscience continues to grow, there is an ongoing need for effective courses that communicate key nanoscience concepts to college students, including students who may not intend to pursue a science-related major. The semester-long course described here targeted first-year college students who are eligible for the course regardless of intended major. Foundational course design elements, including purposes, goals, and pedagogical strategies, are shared from the perspective of the instructor. Two core pedagogical strategies that served as a framework for much of the course included: a) concepts of spatial scale as an organizational schema; and b) the use of scientific modeling as a tool for thinking. Course activities are structured to incorporate a substantial proportion of direct student interactive engagement with the core concepts and with each other. Data collected to generate evidence of student impact included field observations (for approximately 33% of the class meetings) which captured verbatim student comments, reactions, and spontaneous ideas as they interacted around course tasks with each other and with the instructor. In addition to class observations, data sources included: syllabus, instructor pre- and post-course interviews, and a series of 4 interviews for 4 targeted case study students; these interviews were distributed across the semester. The body of evidence supported that the course was effective in both of the core learning targets identified by the instructor, and the course was as effective for the nonscience majors as it was for the science majors.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • The Journal of Nano Education (JNE) is a peer-reviewed international journal that aims to provide the most complete and reliable source of information on current developments in nanoscale science, technology, engineering, and medical education.
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