Abstract

The potential success of a college graduate can depend on their scientific literacy and their ability to appropriately apply knowledge in context. This study provides the first assessment of college student scientific literacy regarding the appropriate use of antibiotics and vaccines in the equine industry. Assessment was performed in two equine courses, Horse Production (n=35) and Equine Health and Diseases (n=38), taught at South Dakota State University during the spring semester of 2016. Assessments were designed to obtain information on student demographics, knowledge, and ability to apply scientific concepts. Students outperformed the general public on questions previously used to measure scientific literacy in national and international surveys. All students correctly indicated that a major concern about antibiotics is overuse. However, fewer students answered the application questions correctly. Overall scores did not improve in a statistically significant manner over the course of the semester (Equine Health and Disease p=0.26; Horse Production p=0.79). These data serve as a baseline for the scientific literacy of students regarding antibiotics and vaccines in equine courses. Characterizing student knowledge and identifying misconceptions is a first and critical step in improving learning outcomes.

 

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