Developing Scientific Literacy: Using News Media in the Classroom

Developing Scientific Literacy: Using News Media in the Classroom

Developing Scientific Literacy: Using News Media in the Classroom

Developing Scientific Literacy: Using News Media in the Classroom

Synopsis

"Throughout the book, all the ideas, content, suggestions and arguments are supported by in-depth research and solid referencing, making this an authoritative, yet eminently readable, reference volume for current and would-be secondary science teachers."
School Science Review

Science-related news stories have great potential as a resource for teaching and learning about science and its impact on society. By demonstrating the relevance of the subject in everyday life, they can form a valuable bridge between the school classroom and the 'real world'.

Worldwide, those advocating science education reform stress the need to promote 'scientific literacy' among young people and typically this includes equipping students to critically engage with science reports in the media. However, very little guidance exists for those who wish to do so.

Developing Scientific Literacy addresses this gap, offering a much-needed framework for teachers wishing to explore 'science in the media' in secondary schools or colleges. It suggests how teachers across a number of subject areas can collaborate to promote among young people an aptitude and ability to engage thoughtfully with science in the media. Drawing on research and development work, the authors:

  • Describe key characteristics of science news reporting
  • Discuss its potential as a resource for teaching and learning about science and for developing young people's criticality in respect of such reports
  • Identify appropriate instructional objectives and suggest activities through which these might be achieved
This timely book is a source of valuable ideas and insights for all secondary science teachers. It will also be of interest to those with responsibilities for initial teacher training and continuing professional development.

Excerpt

The school's youth wing had been transformed for the event. the arrangement of seats around tables suggested that group work was on the agenda. Posters and press cuttings adorned the walls. Most intriguing, though, was the roped-off region at the front of the hall. the sign said 'Newsroom'. There were a number of desks, each with a computer, a telephone and a pile of paper. a large clock dominated the corner. a science teacher was bounding in and out of the makeshift office, practising his lines. Not that they were hard to remember. 'Hold the front page,' he was shouting, 'Hold the front page.'

The young people entered the room. There were about 60 in all, comprising two classes of 14-year-olds. They looked about quizzically. the venue was novel; its layout captivating. More striking, however, was the evidence that their science teachers and English teachers were working together here. Clearly, today was going to be different. Everyone was set to explore 'science in the news'.

'Scientific literacy'

The literature on 'scientific literacy' is vast. Indeed Laugksch's (2000: 73) description of it as 'substantial and diverse' seems an understatement and 'voluminous and expanding' (Layton et al. 1994: ii) appears better to fit the bill. in an effort to impose some order on this scholarship, a number of reviewers have attempted to identify common themes in the writing. This has thrown up some interesting issues, not least Paisley's (1998: 71) rather roguish observation, 'the words “scientific literacy” in an article title almost always means a scolding for one or more of the principal (players)'.

We are not, however, about to lecture anyone. Neither is it our aim to provide a synopsis of the literature on scientific literacy. Others have done . . .

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