Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Melissa Luna

Committee Co-Chair

Sharon Hayes

Committee Member

Malayna Bernstein

Committee Member

Jennifer Gallagher


Over the past twenty years, scientific literacy amongst undergraduates has not improved despite their exposure to higher education science classes. Underlying mechanisms of science literacy development are poorly understood; however, exposure to authentic practices in science has been demonstrated as a means to fostering science literacy development. A unique approach to studying science literacy is through examining the three domains of the science literacy conceptual framework developed in this study, Science as Access, Science as Process, and Science as a Sociopolitical Factor and their components as they emerge through the process of writing a manuscript-style writing assignment. In this exploratory qualitative study, three research questions are addressed: 1. How do students demonstrate science literacy at different points in the writing process as they work towards completing the manuscript style writing assignment, 2. How do course artifacts related to this assignment demonstrate science literacy, and 3. How do students talk about what it means to be scientifically literate? Eight introductory STEM students participated in this study; using a combination of interviews and artifacts surrounding the manuscript-writing process and analytic techniques, a pre-structured case study was developed for each participant. A cross-case analysis was performed across all eight pre-structured cases to develop themes consistent across cases. A total of nine themes emerged from the data. The data suggested that all eight students demonstrated some aspects of science literacy. The cross-case analysis suggested that introductory STEM students have similar strengths and struggles within the Science as Access and Science as Process domains often disregarding the Science as Sociopolitical Factor domain. Students’ perceptions also had an influence on their manuscript-style writing assignment. The implications of this study indicated that to further support science literacy in the undergraduate STEM classroom, students should be engaged in communities of practices starting in introductory courses to increase exposure to authentic practices, these authentic practices should be spread across the curriculum to challenge students to develop scientific writing norms, and the scientific writing process should be scaffolded throughout and across the curriculum and iterative in nature to promote development of science literacy.