Skill development and the future of science education

Jacqueline Dohaney
Monday, April 19, 2021 · 1:30 pm

As we seek to engage science learners in the classroom, instructors often look for real-world case studies, examples, and applications to current research or broader societal problems. We demonstrate our laboratory and field practices, showing learners how to act like scientists, hoping they will replicate and acquire these essential skills. However, do our didactic or controlled demonstrations resemble authentic practices in the sciences? Furthermore, does this approach support graduates to thrive in competitive workplaces and our complex world?

In this seminar, I outline my research on skills-based learning in STEM subjects in a three-part narrative: I. Effective Skills, II. Essential Skills and, III. Authentic Skills. I share evidence-based observations, student artefacts, authentic assessments, and social learning theories that embrace the plurality of how we be-and-become professional scientists. I advocate for a multi-faceted approach to skills-based learning incorporating post-positivist and interpretivist approaches to understanding professional development. In this way, we can cultivate socio-cultural diverse landscapes of science practice that supports and fosters unique skills and professional identities to prepare the next generation of scientists.