The Use of Self-Directed Learning to Promote Active Citizenship in Science, Technology, and Society Classes
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The purpose of this paper is to outline the viability of a student directed assignment within collegiate level Science Technology and Society (STS) curricula for the improvement of the utilization of scientific knowledge and technology in society. The assignment, christened the “Do Something!” assignment, is a novel teaching tool that utilizes students’ individual interests to encourage in-depth learning across disciplines and capitalizes on their personal skills and talents to solve real world problems. The “Do Something!” assignment has been utilized in two STS courses at the Pennsylvania State University (STS 100: The Ascent of Humanity and STS 200: Critical Issues in STS). The structure of this assignment allowed students to make small but concrete contributions towards a sustainable future by applying STS principles. Outcomes indicated that (i) students had an overwhelming positive attitude toward the assignment, (ii) students accomplished in-depth understanding of STS issues outside of their individual fields of study, (iii) students perceived a high level of attainment which resulted in a personal fulfillment, and (iv) that this positive perception encourages them to attempt similar socially beneficial actions outside of the classroom.
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