The Opinion Editorial: teaching physiology outside the box
Improving the public understanding of science is an important challenge for the future professional scientists who are our current undergraduates. In this paper, we present a conceptual model that explores the role of mass media as community gatekeepers of new scientific findings. This model frames the benefits for undergraduate science students to learn about media genres so that they can learn to communicate science more effectively to nonprofessional audiences. Informed by this Media Role model, we then detail a novel writing task for undergraduate physiology students, the Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed), and an accompanying Peer Review. The Op-Ed genre was directly taught to the students by a professional journalist. As an assessment task, students presented a recent, highly technical paper as an Op-Ed. This was assessed by both faculty members and peers using a detailed assessment rubric. Most students were able to replicate the features of Op-Eds and attained high grades on their writing tasks. Survey data from final-year physiology students (n = 230) were collected before and after the implementation of the Op-Ed/Peer Review. These indicated that most students were aware of the importance of scientists to effectively communicate their knowledge to nonprofessional audiences, that the Op-Ed writing task was challenging, and that they believed that their ability to write to nonprofessional audiences was improved after explicit teaching and feedback.
Advances in Physiology Education
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Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified