Research in Science Education

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 439–456 | Cite as

Popular Science Writing to Support Students’ Learning of Science and Scientific Literacy

  • Susanne PelgerEmail author
  • Pernilla Nilsson


In higher natural science education, the scientific report is the prevailing genre of writing. Despite the fact that communicative skills are highly valued in working life, earlier studies have shown deficiencies among science students. In this paper, we highlight the need for varied communication training, in particularly arguing for the possibilities that students’ popular science writing offers. Our study was based on a questionnaire answered by 64 degree project students in biology. The questions focused on the students’ own experiences of writing about their projects for the general public and what contribution the writing made to their learning of science. A vast majority of the students expressed that the writing helped change their perspectives and that they saw their subject and project in a different light. Many of the students described that the popular science writing made it easier for them to put the science content in a context, to better understand the aim of their own work, and the implications of their findings. We discuss the positive effects that popular science writing may have on students’ subject matter understanding and development of scientific literacy. Our concluding remark is that popular science writing is a useful tool for reflection and that it adds significant value to the students’ capacity to change perspectives, understand their subject and develop scientific literacy.


Biology Higher education Popular science writing Science Writing-to-learn Writing skills 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Halmstad UniversityHalmstadSweden

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