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Viewing: HONR 1033 : Honors Seminar: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery

Last approved: Wed, 21 Jun 2017 08:02:37 GMT

Last edit: Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:17:47 GMT

No College Designated
University Honors (HONR)
Honors Seminar: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery
Fall 2017
Course Type
Default Grading Method
Letter Grade




Frequency of Offering

Term(s) Offered

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Fee Type


Using an inquiry-based approach, students learn to identify hidden regularities and patterns in nature that may indicate fundamental unifying principles and laws. The scientific method; evaluation of scientific information; limitations of the scientific process; development of a scientific hypothesis. Tools and methodologies of geology, chemistry, physics, biology, anthropology, and other disciplines.
By the end of the course, you will be able to
• Comprehend how modern science is done.
• Develop new scientific questions, independently investigate those questions, draw logical
conclusions, analyze sources of uncertainty, and present and defend your work.
• Apply scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills to “real-world” situations.
• Understand and appreciate how scientific research is conducted and be able to evaluate
scientific claims made in media, politics, etc..
• Evaluate the credibility and biases of sources of information, particularly online.
• Work comfortably with numbers and quantitative analysis by improving your mathematical
intuition and problem solving abilities.
• Communicate effectively in both written and oral forms.
• Work effectively in a group dynamic.
This course also satisfies the following G-PAC Learning Objectives (all of which will be
assessed by homework and exam questions in addition to the specific assessments listed below):
Students will understand the hypothetico-deductive method:
• Students will learn about the modern “scientific method” through hands-on
experimentation and readings.
• Students will also learn about the limitations of science and develop skills to evaluate
scientific claims.
o Students will complete laboratory exercises and independent research and present
their hypotheses, methods and results.
o Students will be asked to evaluate scientific claims made in the media.
Students will test hypotheses using data and scientific reasoning:
• Students will perform laboratory exercises and independent research in which they will
develop and then test scientific hypotheses by collecting and analyzing data.
• Students will examine and manipulate data and consider both the conclusions that can be
drawn from the data and the data’s limitations.
• Students will learn about modern methods of data analysis.
o Students will complete labs, independent research, and pencil-and-paper activities.
o Students will summarize and reflect on their results from activities.
Students will understand how probability theory affects interpretation of experimental results:
• Students will learn to identify sources of random and statistical error.
• Students will learn to use Excel.
• Students will use statistical methods to evaluate the precision and accuracy of data, and
learn to evaluate the confidence they should place in results/conclusions based on the
errors associated with the data.
• Students will learn how biases may significantly affect the conclusions drawn from data.
o Students will identify and reflect on sources of error both in their own
experiments/activities and in real data.
o Students will use statistical methods to analyze the results of experiments/activities.
Students will understand the difference between causation and correlation:
• Students will learn that correlation does not imply causation.
• Students will learn to identify and evaluate situations in danger of misinterpretation from
confusion between correlation and causation.
o Students will examine scientific claims made in the media in order to identify any
correlation/causation confusion.

Course Attribute
CCAS - GCR: Natural Sciences
CCAS - GPAC: Local/Civil Engage
Gen Ed: Nat or Phys Sci
ESIA-Math / Science

alexmf (Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:32:24 GMT): Rollback: Rollback for GPAC submission
alexmf (Tue, 16 May 2017 17:30:08 GMT): Rollback: Needs review from CCAS UG Dean
echacko (Wed, 17 May 2017 12:57:49 GMT): Rollback: The syllabus needs to indicate that the Local/civic GPAC attribute will be fulfilled. The local/civic learning objectives should be included along with the natural science ones. We are asking for details of assignments that will be used to assess GPAC attributes as well as rubrics, so when you re-submit, please make sure that all these elements are there. If you need information on what we require for local/civic, let me know and I will ask my assistant to send it on. If Prof. Kung is teaching the course, she too has access to this information.
echacko (Fri, 26 May 2017 15:35:04 GMT): Approved for Local/civic GPAC in addition to Natural Science GPAC. E. Chacko
Key: 4346