Using explicit teaching to improve how bioscience students write to the lay public
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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.
Advances in Physiology Education
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Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified