Advertisement

Writing Popular Scientific Articles, Development of Interest in the Natural Sciences, and Non-textual Representations in Student Texts: The “Young Science Journalism” Program in Austria

  • Uwe K. SimonEmail author

Abstract

Writing is essential to communicate scientific ideas and results. Yet, apart from the documentation of lab procedures and results from experiments, this type of discourse is virtually absent from biology, chemistry or physics classes in many countries. This is partly due to the lack of training science teachers receive in this field, but also because many of them do not consider working with language and in particular student writing as a task to be dealt with in their courses. On the other hand, national standards explicitly demand the training of science communication. Starting in 2015, every Austrian student who wants to pass A-levels will have to compose a final thesis. The question then becomes, how do we prepare those students who choose topics from the natural sciences and have never written a lengthy text in this field before? In addition, there is a growing demand for trainees in science and technology. With the exception of biology there are far too few students who decide to pursue a career in this field in several European countries. In response, the European Union has urged its member states to develop measures to increase the number of university students enrolling in such courses. The projects presented in this chapter focus on helping students to write scientific texts which are accurate in terms of content and formal requirements and at the same time interesting to read. The accompanying research analyzes whether or not such writing contributes to an increased interest of high school students in the natural sciences. Additionally, the projects examine the types of representations other than text (pictures, tables, graphs) students choose for illustration. Results from a workshop-based exploratory intervention study conducted in one Austrian high school class indicate that the article writing concept presented here indeed contributes to increased interest in the natural sciences amongst high school students (especially with females) and helps them to improve their written scientific communication. Initial data from an ongoing project with several intervention and control classes are also included. In terms of representations other than text, students seemed to prefer pictures, while relatively few students presented complementary information in tables or graphs. Interview data shows that students valued such representations highly, but many felt that illustrations in the texts of their peers did not always fit well with the main text or that the information contributed was negligible.

Keywords

Anorexia Nervosa Natural Science Science Teacher Scientific Text Austrian Student 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I want to express my sincere gratitude to my colleagues from the departments of didactics of biology, chemistry and physics for their editorial help with the Young Science magazine, to my PhD student Sonja Enzinger and my diploma students Sandra Wallner and Thomas Mitterhuber for allowing me to include first results from their work, to the students and teachers involved in article writing and the projects presented here, to Mark Mcdermott for his many helpful suggestions to improve this paper, and to the Styrian Government (Exciting Science), the Austrian Ministry of Education (IMST) and the Dr. Heinrich-Jörg-Stiftung for their grants.

References

  1. Ainsworth, S. (2006). DeFT: A conceptual framework for considering learning with multiple representations. Learning and Instruction, 16, 183–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, S., Bibby, P., & Wood, D. (2002). Examining the effects of different multiple representational systems in learning primary mathematics. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11, 25–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ainsworth, S., Prain, V., & Tytler, R. (2011). Drawing to learn in science. Science, 333, 1096–1097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. BMUKK. (2008). Lehrplan Biologie und Umweltkunde, AHS-Oberstufe. http://www.bmukk.gv.at/medienpool/11860/lp_neu_ahs_08.pdf
  5. Bundesagentur für Arbeit. (2012). Arbeitsmarktberichterstattung: Der Arbeitsmarkt für Akademikerinnen und Akademiker in Deutschland – Naturwissenschaften/Informatik. Nürnberg: Erschienen.Google Scholar
  6. Christidou, V. (2011). Interest, attitudes and images related to science: Combining students’ voices with the voices of school science, teachers, and popular science. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 6, 141–159.Google Scholar
  7. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1993). Die Selbstbestimmungstheorie der Motivation und ihre Bedeutung für die Pädagogik. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 39, 223–239.Google Scholar
  8. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains. Canadian Psychology, 49, 14–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Donnelly, S. M. (2010). An analysis of science content and representations in introductory college physics textbooks and multimodal learning resources. Ph.D. thesis, University at Albany. http://gradworks.umi.com/3398649.pdf
  10. Ellis, A., & Gerberich, J. R. (1947). Psychological tests and their uses. Review of Educational Research, 17, 64–77.Google Scholar
  11. Gago, J. M., Ziman, J., Caro, P., Constantinou, C., Davies, G., Parchmannn, I., Rannikmäe, M., & Sjøberg, S. (2004). Europe needs more scientists. Increasing human resources for science and technology in Europe. Report of the high level group on human resources for science and technology in Europe. Information and Communication Unit, Directorate-General for Research, European Commission, Brussels.Google Scholar
  12. Gardner, P. L. (1996). Students’ interests in science and technology: Gender, age and other factors. Paper presented at the international conference on interest and gender: issues of development and change in learning, Seeon, Germany.Google Scholar
  13. Gardner, P. L. (1998). The development of males’ and females’ interest in science and technology. In L. Hoffmann, A. Krapp, K. A. Renninger, & J. Baumert (Eds.), Interest and learning. proceedings of the Seeon-conference on interest and gender (pp. 41–57). Kiel: Institut fuer die Paedagogik der Naturwissenschaften (IPN).Google Scholar
  14. Haider, G., & Schreiner, C. (2006). Internationaler Schülerfragebogen. https://www.bifie.at/system/files/dl/PISA-2006_fragebogen-schueler-international.pdf. 11 June 2014.
  15. Hand, B., Hohenshell, L., & Prain, V. (2007). Examining the effect of multiple writing tasks on Year 10 biology students’ understandings of cell and molecular biology concepts. Instructional Science, 35, 343–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haste, H., Muldoon, C., Hogan, A., & Brosnan, M. (2008). If females like ethics in their science and males like gadgets, can we get science education right? Paper presented at the annual conference of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Liverpool.Google Scholar
  17. Holstermann, N., & Bögeholz, S. (2007). Interesse von Jungen und Mädchen an naturwissenschaftlichen Themen am Ende der Sekundarstufe I. Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Naturwissenschaften, 13, 71–86.Google Scholar
  18. KMK. (2004). Einheitliche Prüfungsanforderungen in der Abiturprüfung Biologie. http://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/veroeffentlichungen_beschluesse/1989/1989_12_01-EPA-Biologie.pdf. 11 June 2014.
  19. Krapp, A. (2005). Basic needs and development of interest and intrinsic motivational orientations. Learning and Instruction, 15, 381–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Krapp, A., & Prenzel, M. (2011). Research on interest in science: Theories, methods, and findings. International Journal of Science Education, 33, 27–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Krogh, L. B., & Thomsen, P. V. (2005). Studying students’ attitudes towards science from a cultural perspective but with a quantitative methodology: Border crossing into the physics classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 27, 281–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lachmayer, S. (2008). Entwicklung und Überprüfung eines Strukturmodells der Diagrammkompetenz für den Biologieunterricht. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kiel. http://eldiss.uni-kiel.de/macau/servlets/MCRFileNodeServlet/dissertation_derivate_00002471/Diss_Lachmayer.pdf;jsessionid=BE93C79680EA2A9C61E2F29D515EEA94?host=&o.
  23. Lamnek, S. (2010). Qualitative Sozialforschung. Weinheim/Basel: Beltz Verlag.Google Scholar
  24. Leisen, J. (2010). Handbuch Sprachförderung im Fach – Sprachsensibler Fachunterricht in der Praxis. Bonn: Varus.Google Scholar
  25. Merzyn, G. (1998a). Sprache im naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht. Teil 1. Physik in der Schule, 36, 203–206.Google Scholar
  26. Merzyn, G. (1998b). Sprache im naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht. Teil 2. Physik in der Schule, 36, 243–247.Google Scholar
  27. Merzyn, G. (1998c). Sprache im naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht. Teil 3. Physik in der Schule, 36, 284–287.Google Scholar
  28. Merzyn, G. (2010). Kurswahlen in der gymnasialen Oberstufe. Leistungskurs Physik, Chemie, Mathematik. PhyDid B – Didaktik der Physik – Beiträge zur DPG-Frühjahrstagung.Google Scholar
  29. Merzyn, G. (2013). Naturwissenschaften, Mathematik, Technik – immer unbeliebter? Hohengehren: Schneider Verlag.Google Scholar
  30. Nitz, S. (2013). Kommunikation Schwarz auf weiß. Unterricht Biologie, 387(388), 34–38.Google Scholar
  31. Nitz, S., Prechtl, H., & Nerdel, C. (2014). Survey of classroom use of representations: Development, field test and multilevel analysis. Learning Environments Research, 17, 401–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Norris, S. P., & Phillips, L. M. (1994). Interpreting pragmatic meaning when reading popular reports of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 947–967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Osborne, J., Simon, S., & Tytler, R. (2009). Attitudes towards science: An update. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, California.Google Scholar
  34. Purugganan, M., & Hewitt, J. (2004). How to read a scientific article. Cain project in engineering and professional communication. http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~cainproj/courses/HowToReadSciArticle.pdf. Accessed 11 June 2014.
  35. Roth, W.-M., Bowen, G. M., & McGinn, M. K. (1999). Differences in graph-related practices between high-school biology textbooks and scientific ecology journals. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36, 977–1019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sadoski, M. (2001). Resolving the effects of concreteness on interest, comprehension, and learning important ideas from text. Educational Psychology Review, 13, 263–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schreiner, C. (2006). Exploring a ROSE-garden. Norwegian youth’s orientations towards science – seen as signs of late modern identities. Ph.D. thesis, University of Oslo.Google Scholar
  38. Statistik Austria. (2012). STATcube – Statistische Datenbank von Statistik Austria. http://statcube.at/superwebguest/autoLoad.do?db=def1509. 21 Oct 2013.
  39. Stern, E., Aprea, C., & Ebner, H. G. (2003). Improving cross-content transfer in text processing by means of active graphical representation. Learning and Instruction, 13, 191–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tytler, R., Prain, V., Hubber, P., & Waldrip, B. (2013). Constructing representations to learn in science. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vogt, H. (1998). Zusammenhang zwischen Biologieunterricht und Genese von biologieorientiertem Interesse. Zeitschrift Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Naturwissenschaften, 4, 13–27.Google Scholar
  42. Vogt, H., Upmeier, Z. U., Belzen, A., Schröer, T., & Hoek, I. (1999). Unterrichtliche Aspekte im Fach Biologie, durch die Unterricht aus Schülersicht als interessant erachtet wird. Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Naturwissenschaften, 5, 75–85.Google Scholar
  43. Waldrip, B., Prain, V., & Carolan, J. (2006). Learning junior secondary science through multi-modal representations. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 11, 87–107.Google Scholar
  44. Yore, L. D., & Hand, B. (2010). Epilogue: Plotting a research agenda for multiple representations, multiple modality, and multimodal representational competency. Research in Science Education, 40, 93–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Biology Teacher EducationKarl-Franzens-UniversityGrazAustria

Personalised recommendations