The Course

Have you ever wondered if herbal remedies and diets really work – or how to know if they do? Have you asked yourself how scientists can make claims about events that occurred long before people were there to witness them? And, what about theories, like the Big Bang theory – are they just opinions? What is a theory anyway? Have you ever wondered if Big Foot exists? Whether UFO’s are visiting the earth? Why people claim to have been abducted by aliens? Whether ‘crystal power’ is real?

If so, then the Foundations of Science course would be of interest to you. This innovative science course uses scientific information and scientific reasoning to examine a wide range of extraordinary claims pertaining to these and other topics. Through an examination of these topics, students learn some of the basic principles and theories from many different disciplines of science. Student learning focuses on the nature of science, the scientific method, how to more reliably evaluate evidence, and how to avoid common errors in reasoning. This is in contrast to traditional science classes which focus on the details of a specific science.

The course combines traditional lectures with the examination of case studies. This is known as a Case Study approach to learning, in which students evaluate a variety of science-related ‘cases’ involving extraordinary claims. Research shows that students tend to express more interest, become more involved in their courses, and learn new material better via the Case Study approach. This 4-credit course is completely unlike any science course currently taught at SHSU, but counts toward the Core Curriculum science credit for non-science majors. It consists of a lecture and a lab, with the lab based to a large extent on discussions and activities designed to engage student interest.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand and apply scientific terminology pertaining to the nature and conduct of science, such as hypothesis, law, theory, control group, placebo group, confirmation bias, and double-blind study;
  2. Apply methods of reasoning used by scientists: i.e., the scientific method based on the requirements of falsifiability/testability, logical consistency, comprehensiveness of evidence, intellectual honesty (objectivity), replication of results, and sufficiency of evidence;
  3. Analyze and evaluate common logical fallacies and perceptual biases that interfere with the ability to draw reasonable and/or correct conclusions, as well as the difference between facts, informed opinions, and uninformed opinions;
  4. Learn key concepts and theories from a variety of scientific disciplines, especially physics, biology, and geology;
  5. Demonstrate how to distinguish science from pseudoscience by scientifically evaluating a wide variety of extraordinary claims that are common in our culture today.