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Science education in the 21st century


The traditional university science curriculum was designed to train specialists in specific disciplines. However, in universities all over the world, science students are going into increasingly diverse careers and the current model does not fit their needs. Advances in technology also make certain modes of learning obsolete. In the past ten years, the Faculty of Science of the University of Hong Kong has undertaken major curriculum reforms. A sequence of science foundation courses required of all incoming science students are designed to teach science in an integrated manner, and to emphasize the concepts and utilities, not computational techniques, of mathematics. A number of non-discipline-specific common core courses have been developed to broaden students’ awareness of the relevance of science to society and the interdisciplinary nature of science. By putting the emphasis on the scientific process rather than the outcome, students are taught how to identify, formulate, and solve diverse problems.

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Fig. 1: An armillary sphere mobile app designed to help students understand the predictive power of the geocentric model.

Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative of the University of Hong Kong.


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I thank my HKU colleagues who helped me implement the curriculum reform at HKU, in particular N. K. Tsing and E. K. F. Lam, who were instrumental in the design of the science foundation courses. I am grateful to H. C. von Bergmann and C. Pennypacker of the Global Science Education Network for their advice on the reform.

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Correspondence to Sun Kwok.

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Kwok, S. Science education in the 21st century. Nat Astron 2, 530–533 (2018).

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