The use of self-directed learning to promote active citizenship in STS classes
Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society
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The purpose of this article is to outline the viability of a student-directed assignment within collegiate-level 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 toward a sustainable future by applying STS principles. Outcomes indicated that (a) students had an overwhelming positive attitude toward the assignment; (b) students developed an in-depth understanding of STS issues outside of their individual fields of study; (c) students pe rceived a high level of attainment, which resulted in personal fulfillment; and (d) this positive perception encouraged students to attempt similar socially beneficial actions outside of the classroom.