Recommendations for undergraduate biology education include integration of research experiences into the curriculum, regardless of major. While non-biology majors and biology majors differ in affective characteristics, it is not clear if they differ in their incoming science process skills. We created a scenario-based assessment instrument – designed to gauge science process skills –that was accessible to nonmajors and majors. We evaluated nonmajors' and majors' open-ended responses using a rubric. We also assessed students' science identity, confidence, and attitudes with a pre-course survey. While affective differences between the populations are evident, we did not detect meaningful differences in science competency. These findings indicate that nonmajors and majors are skilled in the process of science and have the ability to engage in meaningful scientific inquiry, confirming our hypothesis that, in supporting a scientifically literate citizenry, educators must emphasize teaching strategies that target affective differences between nonmajors and majors.
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Vol. 81 • No. 8