INSTRUCTOR: Hoda Mostafa

OFFICE: Center for Learning and Teaching

TEL: Office 2615-3734

OFFICE HOURS: Thursday 11:30-12:30

(other office hours by appointment)

EMAIL ADDRESS: hodamostafa@aucegypt.edu

Mission Statement

Scientific Thinking (Sci1020) engages students in scientific inquiry. The course enhances students' awareness of the process science and science literacy as well as developing scientific habits of mind enabling them to apply scientific knowledge and reasoning to personal, professional and public decision-making


This course is a 3 credit hour course meeting 3 days a week for 55 minutes on Mondays and Thursdays, and 75 minutes on Tuesdays.

In the Event of a Tuesday where no GL is scheduled, class will meet as usual unless otherwise stated. Some classes may be extended by 15 minutes if needed and will be announced.


Course Description

Course Description
The course emphasizes the unifying aspects of the scientific approach to the study of the physical world. More than one-third of the course is devoted to scientific inquiry and investigation. The course focuses on the process of science and scientific thinking, fact identification and concept formation and testing. Moral and ethical issues in science are also examined.
In the remaining part of the course, the students become acquainted with some of the great ideas and discoveries of science – in particular how this universe was born, how it evolved and how eventually, in one small corner of this universe, it gave birth to us. In so doing, students will become exposed to the process of science and to how scientists apply the scientific method to answer these questions and many more.

Primary Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

Knowledge and Critical Thinking Outcomes:

Recognize how scientific inquiry is based on the investigation of evidence from the natural world, and that scientific knowledge and understanding is based on evidence, which differs from personal and cultural beliefs.

Evaluate the credibility and validity of information relating to social and science topics and distinguish between science and pseudoscience.

Articulate the relationship between the natural sciences and society and the application of science to societal challenges.

Demonstrate an understanding of the scope and limits of science through the exploration of some of the key concepts of selected scientific theories and milestones.

Participate in
scientific inquiry by applying the scientific method and scientific thinking in interpreting information and problem solving.

Critical thinking learning skills addressed in this course include the ability to:

  • Identify important questions/problems/issue.
  • Analyze, interpret and make judgments about the relevance and quality of information.
  • Identify assumptions and consider alternative perspectives/solutions.
  • Draw conclusions and make judgments based on evidence gathered.
  • Integrate ideas into a coherent argument/solution/presentation, etc.

Communication Skills:

  • Participate effectively and appropriately in a university classroom discussion.
  • Use multimedia or other tools to enhance a presentation.

Writing and Information Literacy Skills:

  • Write short reflection and/or critical analysis paper linked to a reading, film, lecture or popular science topic (500-750 words).
  • Contribute to a group final project.

Collaboration Skills

  • Participate on a collaborative team project

Broad Course Outline

A. (Week 1- 7 excluding Eid break) Thursday September 1st-Thursday October 20th

Science, Scientific Thinking and the Process of Science

  • Introduction to Scientific thinking, evaluation of Information; tools of skeptical thinking
  • Science as a process; the scientific method
  • Science and pseudoscience
  • Analysis of case studies
  • Research Methods and Basic Quantitative Reasoning

Tuesday Classes

To be announced on Bb

TBA (week 8 of semester)

B. (Week 8-15) Monday October 24th-Last day of classes on Thursday December 15th

A.The magnificent universe and our place in it: Where do we fit in?

  • Big Bang and origin of galaxies
  • Birth, evolution and death of stars
  • Origin of the elements
  • Origin of Earth and the Solar system

B. Our Descent from the stars: Who are we? Where did we come from?

  • Origins of life
  • DNA and more
  • Evolution of life


This will take place during exam week as per the online final exam schedule


1) Readings
You will have a reading assigned every week. These readings will be posted on Blackboard (Bb). You should come to class prepared to discuss the readings, and you should print and bring with you a copy of the reading material so as to use it in class. You may be given “reading guidelines” for some of the readings, which will also be posted on Bb.
Some readings will be in preparation for a class activity.
Class may begin with a “reading quiz” which is a bonus quiz. These quizzes can earn you up to 2%, which will be added to your final grade.

2) Assignments
You will have 3-4 “Major Assignments” distributed over the whole semester, which could be any of the following:

  • Analysis of an article
  • A case study
  • A critical response paper
  • Analysis of a website
  • Analysis of a video
  • A problem solving activity
  • An online assignment

Late assignments are not accepted. If you can’t make it to class, send it through Blackboard on the day it is due.

3) In-class Activities
You will have several graded in-class activities. Most of these activities will be group work activities. Hence attendance is very important. Most of the in-class group work will result in identical grades for each member of the group. Nonattendance in class will result in a zero for the activity. If members of the group do not contribute equally, the grade may be divided unequally.

4) Projects
25 % of the total grade of the course is for a collaborative research “group” project. The topic for your project (which will be agreed upon by your instructor) will be relevant to the theme of the course. You will be working steadily as a group during the semester and for the final product of the project. Project guidelines will be posted to Bb as well as timeline for submission. Late submission will receive a penalty.
Group projects will not necessarily result in identical grades for each member of the group, therefore you should carefully indicate ‘who contributed what’ in a student acknowledgment form.

5) Exams
There will be two exams, a MT during week 8 and a final according to the schedule of final exams. The final exam is comprehensive but guidelines will be posted on Bb to help students review important concepts.

Grade distribution

Activity............................................................ % Grade distribution

General lecture participation ........................................ 5 %

Assignments ..................................................................... 20%

Activities and Participation .......................................... 15%

Mid-term exam ................................................................ 20%

Final exam ......................................................................... 20%

Project ................................................................................ 20%

Total ............................................................................100%

Grading Profile: (adapted from “A thinker’s guide to how to improve student learning”) This is a helpful guide to aid in understanding expectations of the course.

The Grade of A: Overall excellence, no major weaknesses. A-level work implies excellence in thinking and performance within the context of the course. It also implies development of a range of knowledge and application of scientific thinking processes. The work at the end of each graded assessment of the course is whole, clear, precise and well presented with occasional lapses. An A-level student participates actively and works consistently.

The Grade of B: Demonstrates more strengths than weaknesses and is more consistent in high-level work than C-level work. It has some distinctive weaknesses, though no major ones.

The Grade of C: The essence of C level work is that it demonstrates more than a minimal level of skill, but it is also highly inconsistent, with as many weaknesses as strengths.

The Grade of D: The essence of D-level work is that it demonstrates only a minimal level of understanding and skill in the course context.

The Grade of F:
The essence of F-level work is that the student demonstrates a pattern of inconsistency, failing to do the required work or the course. Absences of more than 6 classes will result in an F grade.

Course Calendar

The course calendar (with exam dates and other announcements) will be found on Bb. You should regularly check your Bb calendar and your Bb email.

Use of technology and Web-Enhanced/flipped teaching

We will be regularly using Bb where all your materials, grades, assignments and the like will be found. Out of class, this will be our main mode of communication through email or a discussion group should you be assigned one. You will be required to check your Bb account regularly for updates.

In addition, you will be using the internet and applications such as PowerPoint, wikis, or other software.
Support through the library Learning Commons’ Student Technology Assistants (STAs) will be provided should you need help.

You should be prepared to work on class material at home in preparation for class discussion or in-class activities.

work may also be assigned at home in the event of class suspension should the need arise. This may include completing online activities, participating in online discussions, using collaborative online resources such as a wiki or a blog and other basic online teaching and learning strategies.

You will be provided with adequate guidelines should this need arise.

Class Attendance Policy And Participation In Class Activities

All students are encouraged to attend regularly. Students are not permitted to exceed 9 excused or unexcused absences as per the University catalogue and course requirements (3 weeks of instruction). Poor attendance will result in loss of activity and participation points (total 15% distributed over the semester) due to the high number of graded in-class activities.

Poor attendance will also reflect poorly on group work relating to projects and other activities such as in-class discussion of assigned readings.

More than 9 absences will result in a lower final letter grade (up to a failing grade F) for the course.

Coming in 10 minutes after the start of class will count as a “late attendance”. Two “late attendances” will count as an (one) absence.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Students are expected to commit to the principles of academic integrity.

Academic integrity includes a commitment to not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception.
Such acts of dishonesty include cheating or copying, plagiarizing, submitting another persons' work as one's own, using Internet or other sources without citation, fabricating field data or citations, stealing examinations, tampering with the academic work of another student, facilitating other students' acts of academic dishonesty, etc. Plagiarism for assignments and/or reports may result in a zero grade for the assignment and/or the report in question. Cheating during an examination may result in a zero grade for this examination. Further action, according to university regulations, would also be implemented.

You should be aware that all written work might be submitted to “Turnitin.com”, the detection prevention software. By signing this syllabus, you will acknowledge that you have understood that any detected plagiarism will have to be reported.

The University's statement on academic integrity, from which the above statement is drawn, is available at http://www.aucegypt.edu/academics/integrity/Pages/default.aspx


"Kindly be informed that the period of late Registration and Drop/Add ends on September 7th at 3:00pm. The last day for DROPPING A COURSE (not drop/add) is which is the 8th week in the semester October 27th 2016. This date is scheduled in accordance with the new drop policy approved by the University Senate which we started to implement as of the fall 2012."

©2011 Kristina Servant. CC BY 2.0
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