Some have argued that students who are scientifically literate should command a basic set of facts. For example, perhaps everyone should know what DNA is, how the movement of the earth around the sun affects the seasons, and how natural selection drives evolution. Others argue that it’s more important for students to develop a sense of wonder and awe about the natural world and a sense of how we come to understand how it works through the scientific process. Still others argue that students should leave college with a greater appreciation for science so that science is something they feel they can understand and incorporate into their future lives.
Our answer stresses the ways people actually use science in their everyday lives: we argue that a college education should equip students to engage meaningfully with science over the course of a lifetime. To achieve this goal, undergraduates must develop a toolkit of useful skills and concepts, and they must have repeated opportunities to practice applying them in real-world situations.