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Science Café Course: An Innovative Means of Improving Communication Skills of Undergraduate Biology Majors

    Authors: Anna Goldina1, Ophelia I. Weeks2,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022; 2: Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 May 2014
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Founding Director FIU QBIC Program, Director FIU MARC U*STAR Program, Florida International University, Department of Biological Sciences, OE-167, Miami, FL 33199. Phone: 305-348-3099. Fax: 305-348-1986. E-mail: [email protected].
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 13-17. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.678
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    Abstract:

    To help bridge the increasing gap between scientists and the public, we developed an innovative two-semester course called Science Café. In this course, undergraduate biology majors learn to develop communication skills to be better able to explain science concepts and current developments in science to non-scientists. Students develop and host outreach events on various topics relevant to the community, thereby increasing interactions between budding scientists and the public. Such a Science Café course emphasizes development of science communication skills early, at the undergraduate level, and empowers students to use their science knowledge in everyday interactions with the public to increase science literacy, get involved in the local community and engage the public in a dialogue on various pressing science issues. We believe that undergraduate science majors can be great ambassadors for science and are often overlooked since many aspire to go on to medical/veterinary/pharmacy schools. However, science communication skills are especially important for these types of students because when they become healthcare professionals, they will interact with the public as part of their everyday jobs and can thus be great representatives for the field.

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References & Citations

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16. Webb AB, et al 2010 Training scientists in a science center improves science communication to the public Adv Physiol Educ 36 72 76 10.1152/advan.00088.2010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.00088.2010
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.678
2014-05-01
2019-08-20

Abstract:

To help bridge the increasing gap between scientists and the public, we developed an innovative two-semester course called Science Café. In this course, undergraduate biology majors learn to develop communication skills to be better able to explain science concepts and current developments in science to non-scientists. Students develop and host outreach events on various topics relevant to the community, thereby increasing interactions between budding scientists and the public. Such a Science Café course emphasizes development of science communication skills early, at the undergraduate level, and empowers students to use their science knowledge in everyday interactions with the public to increase science literacy, get involved in the local community and engage the public in a dialogue on various pressing science issues. We believe that undergraduate science majors can be great ambassadors for science and are often overlooked since many aspire to go on to medical/veterinary/pharmacy schools. However, science communication skills are especially important for these types of students because when they become healthcare professionals, they will interact with the public as part of their everyday jobs and can thus be great representatives for the field.

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