12 September 2012

Mistaking the bottle for the wine

Latest insight gained from listening to advanced undergraduate students about how they see scientific publishing.

I gave students an original journal article and Ed Yong’s write up about it: same story, but told different ways. Then, I asked them to write out what distinguished the writing style of the two pieces.

One of the things a few of the groups wrote down for the journal article was, “scientific method.” This puzzled me a bit, since they were both reporting the same information. When I asked them to elaborate, they said, “It has an introduction, methods, results, and discussion section.”

They took the format of the paper to be “scientific method.” Not generating hypotheses, designing controlled tests, or analyzing evidence. I’m not sure yet if this is just confusion over terminology or a deeper misunderstanding. It’s not good either way.

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Science writing as seen by students


Sandlin said...

That's a really interesting exercise. Clearly it was revealing to discuss what students think about science communication. Would you try such an activity again?

Zen Faulkes said...

I did this a couple of years ago, only using a write-up from Carl Zimmer instead of Ed Yong for the non-technical summary. The results are here: http://neurodojo.blogspot.com/2010/09/science-writing-as-seen-by-students.html