Promoting science literacy via science journalism: Issues and challenges

Billy McClune, Ruth Jarman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Science journalism is the source of much of the science an individual will encounter beyond formal education. Science-based media reports, which might have been associated with informal education, are increasingly becoming incorporated into formal school contexts. Unlike science textbooks, the science reported in the news is often tentative and sometimes contested. It can involve difficult socio-scientific issues. Descriptors of ‘science literacy’ generally include reading and responding critically to media reports of science. The challenge of using science-based news effectively encourages teachers to reassess their knowledge and pedagogical practices.
In addition to creating interest in science and making links beyond the classroom, news media can be used to introduce pupils to elements of science enquiry and teachers can promote basic literacy and critical reading skills through systematic and imaginative use of media reports with a science component.
This chapter explores the knowledge, skills and attitudes that underpin the use of science journalism in the classroom. The unique characteristics and constraints of science journalism that influence the way science is presented and perceived are considered, and the importance of media awareness as a foundation for critical reading of science news is argued. Finally the characteristics of teaching programmes to support critical engagement with science-based media reports are outlined and the opportunities for cross-curricular initiatives highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunicating Science to the Public: Opportunities and Challenges for the Asia-Pacific Region
EditorsLeo Tan Wee Hin, R. Subramaniam
Place of PublicationNetherlands
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-017-9097-0
ISBN (Print)978-94-017-9096-3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

This book explores effective approaches for communicating science to the public in developing countries. Offering multiple perspectives on this important topic, it features 17 chapters that represent the efforts of 23 authors from eight countries: Australia, Bangladesh, India, Ireland, New Zealand, USA, Singapore and South Africa.
Inside, readers will find a diversity of approaches to communicate science to the public. The book also highlights some of the challenges that science communicators, science policy makers, science teachers, university academics in the sciences and even entrepreneurs may face in their attempts to boost science literacy levels in their countries. In addition, it shares several best practices from the developed world that may help readers create communication initiatives that can lead to increased engagement with science in communities in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.


  • science communication - science for development - science journalism asia - science literacy asia


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