Reading an article

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Read. Get the world's view and see how science works for real

Lesson idea. Reading scientific articles moves students beyond textbook learning and, of course, helps expand their knowledge. More than this, encouraging reading offers opportunities to compare messages in popular science writing with the writing for academics. For example, students could compare articles written on the MMR vaccine by 'behind the headlines' bloggers with some mainstream pieces. They could discuss scientific communication, its popularity, the need to explain terms, the use of images and terminology and, sometimes, the complete avoidance of terminology. As teacher, you could instigate discussion on peer review, the process of publishing and the structure of academic articles. You could also encourage students to write a blog, or a 'wiki' on science and to think about science communication in various contexts. The place to start could be an article in the news, a box of articles or a set of bookmarks you've collected. Included here are links to some less obvious sources for science articles.

Teaching approach. The resource relates to the importance of:

  • Scientific literacy(topic).
  • Science citizenship(topic) - understanding science in its context.
  • Literacy - understanding the role of different media in dissemination.
  • Scientific understanding of particular concepts chosen.
  • scientific language(ta).
  • scientific method(ta).

It can be delivered through a combination of homework(ta) (perhaps to find an interesting article), group work(ta) to explore various articles (perhaps in a carousel), and/or use of ICT(i) including PowerPoint files to encourage students to present an area they are interested in. (edit)

Resource details
Title Reading and discussing popular science articles
Topic Scientific literacy,  Science citizenship,  Reading skills
Teaching approach
Learning Objectives

Depending on the activity chosen, learning outcomes may be:

  • discussing various media for science communication and distinguish between academic and non-academic articles,
  • identifying ways that academic work could have an accessible format and style,
  • identifying the differences in aims for scientific writing as well as the consequences.
  • knowing about peer review versus writing for magazines and the web.
Subject
Age of students / grade

KS4,  KS3,  Secondary


Related ORBIT Wiki Resources

See Listening to scientists - a collection of interviews on ORBIT Listening series - C105

Files and resources to view and download

Some sources of articles, that may suit ages 14-19

  • Choose an article for discussion in class from BlueSci (http://www.bluesci.org), a science magazine produced by students at the University of Cambridge (Creative Commons license)
  • Collect articles and tag them into categories for pupils to read regularly. For example, check this student teacher's collection of psychology links on Delicious
  • Look at the balance of media coverage of health stories. Contrast them with the original news articles. See NHS Choices 'Behind the Headlines'
  • For advanced readers, see this blog directory based on research articles Research Blogging
  • Or see these open access journals from various scientific fields PLoS ONE publishers
Acknowledgement