Making time for science reading: The news is good.

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Abstract: Making time for science reading: The news is good.
Preparing young people for meaningful involvement with science based issues and debates that are of relevance to them and that impact on their wellbeing and that of their communities is one aspect of science literacy. These newsworthy science-based issues often relate to cutting edge science research or its application. However, while the underlying core science concepts may be the subject of school science, news reports deal with issues beyond the scope of school science texts. Nevertheless such issues are discussed in social and news media, and are the subject of public debate at local and national level. Hence, news about the spread of Ebola or more recently the Zika virus influence health related choices. Similarly media reports about ‘Fracking’ and the concerns about its impact on water purity raise awareness, sway opinions and influence community decision-making.
Information is gathered and decisions are made about important issued based on science reported in the media. For most people their understanding, or misunderstanding, of science-based issues is dependant on their critical science reading skills. Hence the exhortation in science programmes and policy documents that science literacy should include the ability to read with understanding media reports with a science component. The intention is to prepare young people for life beyond formal schooling by giving them the skills to view with an informed and critical eye the science issues that for the most part will be reported in the media. In this context critical science reading capability might be recognised as the capacity to access, understand, retain, evaluate and use information needed to make a reasoned response to a media report with a science component. This ability is not a likely outcome of content driven approaches to science teaching alone and so needs special attention if it is to become established within the curriculum.

This workshop presents outcomes and resources from a curricular intervention for pupils. The ‘Let’s get Newswise’ challenge aimed to develop critical reading literacy using with science-based media reports. It uses findings of a multi school classroom study involving 250 pupils age 11-14 years. Teachers engaged in a programme of lessons using media based science sources that overtly promoted critical science reading. Data from the classroom based study included assessment tasks, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with pupils. In addition, video recording of group activity and intentional conversations between pupils were scrutinised. Pupils demonstrated a grasp of all elements of critical reading however their mastery of higher-level elements was limited. Competency in these skill areas was best illustrated in the context of collaborative working.

The workshop will give teachers access to resources and competency assessments. In addition they will experience of three components of critical reading. Firstly the skill to access information from the text, secondly the ability to interpret text elements relating to a science study and finally the aptitude to evaluate and communicate a reasoned response to the science report based on their grasp of the text as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2018
EventNSTA Annual conference 2018
Science on My Mind
- Atlanta, United States
Duration: 15 Mar 201818 Mar 2018


ConferenceNSTA Annual conference 2018
Science on My Mind
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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