Charleston Conference: Science education gone Wilde: Science references that work

John Rennie, editorial director for AccessScience at McGraw-Hill Education

– focus on creation, selection, and acquisition of good resources
– science suffers from its own issues of triviality and earnestness
– an example of problematic science conversations today = Ebola: infectiousness vs contagiousness is not clearly understood or explained
– we need to be less of a “learn science because it’s good for you” and aim more to engage innate curiosity and find science connections
– excellence in science communication: correctness, accuracy, authority, currency, clarity — Needs to also include successful learning displayed by the user, not just sponging up information
– previous expectation for students to meet authors when they are
– the worst reference is the one NOT used even when people know it might be helpful
– challenges to sci communication: boredom, confusion, other priorities (Stanford’s Writing for the Sciences MOOC definitely aimed to address the confusion factor)
Science and Nature has risen in lexical difficulty, primarily starting in the 1960s, due to issues like increasingly specific terminology
– We need to know our audience, it’s needs, and anticipating future needs (Yea for the rhetorical pyramid)
– clarity trumps accuracy and completeness
– narratives are a best practice for conveying information
– eye tracking software can be used to see what are difficult parts of text that may need revision or clarification
– reading an abstract vs reading article top-to-bottom. Abstract is more accessible to outside audiences, but top-to-bottom allows you to develop critical or skeptical reading framework in relation to this actual article, it’s veracity, etc
– science blogging is helpful for engaging other conversations and reaching the public

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