SCIE 326 (Scientific Reasoning) is a three-credit science-based course that covers the formal and informal aspects of scientific reasoning. This course requires students to have at least twelve credits in university-level science courses, including at least six in courses with laboratory components. However, according to the Faculty of Science and Technology, “Students in the BSc CIS (Bachelor of Science Major in Computing and Information Systems) program can count Computer Science (COMP) courses towards the laboratory component of the pre-requisite; therefore, they only need to have completed four computer science courses.”
Scientific Reasoning is comprised of one assignment (a long essay) weighing twenty-five percent, a midterm exam worth thirty-five percent, and a final exam weighing forty percent. This course covers topics similar to PHIL 252 (Critical Thinking) and PHIL 333 (Professional Ethics), such as defining science, defining reason, the scientific method, relations between theory and experiment, scientific paradigms, explanation and prediction, scientific theory, principles of reasoning, systems of analytical reasoning, traps and fallacies of reason, statistical inference, mathematics in science, and tools of analysis (such as Venn diagrams, classification, syllogisms, and Boolean logic). If you are interested in learning more about Critical Thinking or Professional Ethics, read my PHIL 252 and PHIL 333 Course Exam Articles!
Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Dr. James Greenwood-Lee is the course coordinator for SCIE 326 (Scientific Reasoning), as well as MATH 244 (Business Mathematics), MATH 409 (Number Theory), MATH 481 (Mathematical Modeling II), MATH 495 (Mathematics Projects), and MATH 496 (Mathematics Projects). He joined Athabasca University in 2010 as a tutor and became an Assistant Professor in 2015. He completed an undergraduate degree in Zoology at the University of Calgary and then went to Queen’s for his graduate studies in Mathematics. After that he moved back to Calgary because he and his wife wanted their children to grow up close to their family. He states, “Now I have two awesome kids, who are continually besting me at everything!”
Dr. Greenwood-Lee states, “I took over this course in 2015 from Dr. Burt Voorhees, though I must give credit where credit is due. Dr. Voorhees, who is now a professor emeritus, is the original author and course coordinator for Science 326.”
When asked to provide information about the structure of the long essay, he notes that “The course consists of a single assignment, which requires the student to write a long essay. Students have the freedom to select an essay topic of their preference from a list of set topics and the essay can be completed at any time during the students’ course contract. The essay is designed to be a writing exercise and students’ work should be composed as a proper essay. The trick here is to make use of this exercise to improve your writing by engaging with your tutor. I am always happy when a student asks me to provide feedback on an outline or a draft. Though, for obvious reasons, I will not write your paper for you, but I can always provide feedback on how to improve it so that you can submit your best work and receive your best grade. Also, do not forget about AU’s Write Site.”
For students that are not familiar with AU’s Write Site, it is a website that is designed to help students with their academic writing assignments and to help students develop their writing skills over time. Prior to submitting an assignment to your tutor to be marked, you can submit it to the Write Site and you will receive feedback on your writing, such as its organization, mechanics, grammar, and style. However, the Write Site will not provide any feedback on the content you present in the assignments that you submit, as the writing coaches don’t know the content of every course.
The writing coaches of AU’s Write Site help students identify individual patterns of errors and focus on improving three to four writing skills in each submission. Also, if required, the writing coaches may refer or suggest a specific writing course to a student to further help to improve their writing skills. If you are interested in submitting an assignment to the Write Site, make sure you submit the assignment for feedback to the Writing Coach Submission Drop Box at least three business days before you need it returned. Also, allow for additional time to rewrite or adjust the assignment based on the feedback that was provided.
As for the midterm and final exam, Dr. Greenwood-Lee states, “There are two exams in SCIE 326. The midterm exam focuses on the first half of the course and the final exam focuses on the last half of the course. Each exam is a mixture of short answer questions, long answer questions, and exercises. Personal notes and the textbook are not allowed during the examination and the exams are pretty standard when it comes to their difficulty.”
When asked what kind of work ethic students will need to be successful in this course, Dr. Greenwood-Lee states, “Obviously there is work to be put in. In general, the more one does the better one does, but as a student always be aware of decreasing returns on investment. Every student is different, and the trick is to know your own learning style, your own strengths, and your own weaknesses. Most importantly, do not feel like you have to do it alone. If you are having trouble with the material, then reach out to your tutor. I am always happy to help you work through the material. While I cannot speak to a general work ethic needed for success, since we are all different, I can give you my personal view. For me, this would be the type of course I would tackle primarily when I am winding down. There is a lot of reading and reflecting on ideas in this course and that is the type of work I like to do when I am in a fairly relaxed state. I say primarily because when it comes time to prepare for exams there are a lot of concepts to know and understand. I do this better when my brain is stimulated. I would probably turn on the Sleater-Kinney and just go at it.”
Dr. Greenwood-Lee concludes, “SCIE 326 is certainly different from your standard science course that focuses on a particular topic in a particular field of science. That being said, my advice is to embrace the challenge. It is important for all scientists to have background in the history and philosophy of science as well as the core concepts that lie at its foundations. Ultimately, students should have a better understanding of what science actually entails after completing this course and, like all courses, Science 326 must evolve to stay both relevant and effective. Ideas and input from students on how to make the course better are always welcome.”
Whether this course is a degree requirement of yours or the topics discussed above interest you, this course will have you engaged and immersed in interesting, relevant science related content. If you have any questions regarding SCIE 326 or would like to provide feedback on the course, Dr. James Greenwood-Lee encourages you to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.