Using explicit teaching to improve how bioscience students write to the lay public

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Moni, Roger W, Hryciw, Deanne H ORCID: 0000-0003-1697-8890, Poronnik, Philip and Moni, Karen B (2007) Using explicit teaching to improve how bioscience students write to the lay public. Advances in Physiology Education, 31 (2). pp. 167-175. ISSN 1043-4046


The media role model was recently developed to frame how science faculty members can teach their students to write more effectively to lay audiences (14). An Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed) was introduced as a novel assignment for final-year physiology and pharmacology undergraduates. This second phase of this study, reported here, demonstrated the efficacy of explicit teaching of the Op-Ed, using a one-shot, pre-/posttest research design. Baseline writing skills of students were determined from a communication assignment. Students were then explicitly taught how to write an Op-Ed and subsequently wrote an Op-Ed based on a recent, relevant scientific article. Most students achieved higher grades for their Op-Ed following explicit teaching [mean (SD) = 84.4% (9.1%), n = 216] compared with their communication assignment [mean (SD) = 74.7% (11.9%), n = 218]. Improvement in student writing was also evident by an increase in text readability, which mirrored the features of Op-Eds written by professional journalists. A survey of students (n = 142) indicated that most believed that the assignments were valuable and that their ability to write to a lay audience had improved. Members of the lay public were then surveyed for their opinions on student writing. Two assignments were selected from one student whose grades had improved after explicit teaching. Respondents (n = 78) indicated that the Op-Ed was easier to read than the communication assignment. Thus, explicit teaching of the Op-Ed improved the ability of students to write to members of the lay public.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1152/advan.00111.2006
Official URL
Subjects Historical > SEO Classification > 9299 Other Health
Historical > FOR Classification > 0699 Other Biological Sciences
Historical > FOR Classification > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Biomedical and Health Sciences
Keywords ResPubID16230, public audience, scientific communication
Citations in Scopus 22 - View on Scopus
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