Free science literacy course launched

Posted 27 October 2020

The University of Alberta is offering a free online course in Science Literacy intended to enable learners to “understand and use scientific evidence to challenge claims based on misinformation, and engage the process of science to ask questions to build our knowledge.” The course has no prerequisites, features a variety of guest lecturers, and can be completed at the learner’s own pace—roughly five weeks with five to seven hours per week of study.

Reference: Lyle A. UAlberta launches free online Science Literacy course. University of Alberta Faculty of Science, Oct 13, 2020

The modules of the course are: Introduction to Science; Pseudoscience; Critical Thinking; Scientific Methods; and Interpreting Evidence

About the Course

We are often told not to believe everything we read online or see on TV—but how do we tell the difference between sensationalized statistics and a real scientific study? Learn how to spot sound science with our new online course in Science Literacy. Join Claire Scavuzzo and Rachel Buehl in this new, five-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Science, hosted on Coursera

In Science Literacy, you’ll hear from:

  • Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and star of Netflix’s “A User’s Guide to Cheating Death” on pseudoscience
  • Torah Kachur, scientist and CBC journalist on science communication (and miscommunication!)
  • Christian Nelson, citizen scientist and creator of Edmonton Weather Nerdery, on experimental design
  • Métis Elder Elmer Ghostkeeper and Cree Elder Rose Wabasca, on the holistic nature of Inidigenous wisdom and how it can work with the scientific process
  • David Rast, scientist and psychology expert, on uncertainty and decision making

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Recognize that science is a systematic approach to evidence, differentiate science from common sense and intuition, recognise bias, and discuss how Indigenous wisdom can inform and complement the scientific method. 
  • Differentiate between science, pseudoscience, fake science, fraudulent science, and explain what makes pseudoscience both attractive and dangerous.
  • Think critically when presented with new information, explain the difference between correlation and causation, identify unfalsifiable hypotheses, and apply a critical thinking framework as an approach to skepticism. 
  • Differentiate the scientific method from critical thinking frameworks, generate null and alternative hypotheses, define and measure variables, and apply the appropriate research design to a given situation. 
  • Differentiate peer-reviewed primary literature from mainstream media, and describe the utility of statistics for scientists and peer review
  • Evaluate reporting of scientific findings in the media and identify media tactics that bias public understanding by misrepresenting interpretations of scientific findings

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