Educational Research and Reviews

  • Abbreviation: Educ. Res. Rev.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1990-3839
  • DOI: 10.5897/ERR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 2009

Full Length Research Paper

Examining US college students’ attitudes towards science: Learning from non-science majors

Melissa Cook1, and Thalia M. Mulvihill2*
  1East Texas Baptist University, U.S.A. 2Ball State University, U.S.A.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 05 October 2007
  •  Published: 31 January 2008



This study examined college students’ attitudes towards science in a course designed with Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities (SENCER) ideals. SENCER uses socially engaging issues to teach basic science to non-science majors.  A combination of methods was used to measure changes in attitudes (confidence and interest) and scientific literacy after completing this SENCER course. While a pre/posttest showed a significant increase in knowledge about biological concepts, the study revealed no significant change in confidence or interest in science in general as measured by the SENCER Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey.  However, a second instrument, the Biology Attitude Scale, demonstrated a significant increase in positive attitudes towards biology in particular.  The case study data (including a content analysis of online reflective questions and semi-structured interviews) revealed that students’ confidence in science remained the same during the semester even though their interest may have increased.  This suggests that an increase in both variables (confidence and interest) simultaneously may not be needed in order to increase scientific literacy.  These results have implications for college science teachers designing courses for non-science majors.


Keywords: Science education, non-science majors, scientific literacy, interdisciplinary courses.