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Enhancing Scientific Communication Through an Undergraduate Biology and Journalism Partnership

    Author: Johanna M. Schwingel1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY 14778
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1445
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    Abstract:

    Scientific terminology presents an obstacle to effective communication with nonscientific audiences. To overcome this obstacle, biology majors in a general microbiology elective completed a project involving two different audiences: a scientific audience of their peers and a general, nonscientific audience. First, students presented an overview of a primary research paper and the significance of its findings to a general, nonscientific audience in an elevator-type talk. This was followed by a peer interview with a student in a journalism course, in which the biology students needed to comprehend the article to effectively communicate it to the journalism students, and the journalism students needed to ask questions about an unfamiliar, technical topic. Next, the biology students wrote a summary of their article for a scientific audience. Finally, the students presented a figure from the article to their peers in a scientific, Bio-Minute format. The biology-journalism partnership allowed biology students to develop their ability to communicate scientific information and journalism students their ability to ask appropriate questions and establish a base of knowledge from which to write.

References & Citations

1. Brechman JM, Lee CJ, Cappella JN 2009 Lost in translation? A comparison of cancer-genetics reporting in the press release and its subsequent coverage in lay press Sci Commun 30 453 474 10.1177/1075547009332649 25568611 4283841 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1075547009332649
2. Brownell SE, Price JV, Steinman L 2013 Science communication to the general public: why we need to teach undergraduate and graduate students this skill as part of their formal scientific training J Undergrad Neurosci Educ 12 E6 E10 24319399 3852879
3. Seiler A, Knee A, Shaaban R, Bryson C, Paadam J, Harvey R, Igarashi S, LaChance C, Benjamin E, Lagu T 2017 Physician communication coaching effects on patient experience PLOS One 12 e0180294 10.1371/journal.pone.0180294 28678872 5497987 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180294
4. Sibille K, Greene A, Bush JP 2010 Preparing physicians for the 21 st century: targeting communication skills and the promotion of health behavior change Ann Behav Sci Med Educ 16 7 13 10.1007/BF03355111 22187518 3242004 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF03355111
5. Likens GE 2010 The role of science in decision making: does evidence-based science drive environmental policy? Frontiers Ecol Environ 8 e1 e9 10.1890/090132 http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/090132
6. Renaud J, Squier C, Larsen S 2006 Integration of a communicating science module into an advanced chemistry laboratory course J Chem Educ 83 1029 1031 10.1021/ed083p1029 http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed083p1029

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2018-03-30
2019-08-18

Abstract:

Scientific terminology presents an obstacle to effective communication with nonscientific audiences. To overcome this obstacle, biology majors in a general microbiology elective completed a project involving two different audiences: a scientific audience of their peers and a general, nonscientific audience. First, students presented an overview of a primary research paper and the significance of its findings to a general, nonscientific audience in an elevator-type talk. This was followed by a peer interview with a student in a journalism course, in which the biology students needed to comprehend the article to effectively communicate it to the journalism students, and the journalism students needed to ask questions about an unfamiliar, technical topic. Next, the biology students wrote a summary of their article for a scientific audience. Finally, the students presented a figure from the article to their peers in a scientific, Bio-Minute format. The biology-journalism partnership allowed biology students to develop their ability to communicate scientific information and journalism students their ability to ask appropriate questions and establish a base of knowledge from which to write.

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