Teaching scientists to communicate: evidence-based assessment for undergraduate science education

Mercer-Mapstone, Lucy and Kuchel, Louise (2015) Teaching scientists to communicate: evidence-based assessment for undergraduate science education. International Journal of Science Education, 37 10: 1613-1638. doi:10.1080/09500693.2015.1045959

Author Mercer-Mapstone, Lucy
Kuchel, Louise
Title Teaching scientists to communicate: evidence-based assessment for undergraduate science education
Journal name International Journal of Science Education   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1464-5289
Publication date 2015-05-23
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/09500693.2015.1045959
Volume 37
Issue 10
Start page 1613
End page 1638
Total pages 26
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Communication skills are one of five nationally recognised learning outcomes for an Australian Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree. Previous evidence indicates that communication skills taught in Australian undergraduate science degrees are not developed sufficiently to meet the requirements of the modern-day workplace—a problem faced in the UK and USA also. Curriculum development in this area, however, hinges on first evaluating how communication skills are taught currently as a base from which to make effective changes. This study aimed to quantify the current standard of communication education within BSc degrees at Australian research-intensive universities. A detailed evidential baseline for not only what but also how communication skills are being taught was established. We quantified which communication skills were taught and assessed explicitly, implicitly, or were absent in a range of undergraduate science assessment tasks (n = 35) from four research-intensive Australian universities. Results indicate that 10 of the 12 core science communication skills used for evaluation were absent from more than 50% of assessment tasks and 77.14% of all assessment tasks taught less than 5 core communication skills explicitly. The design of assessment tasks significantly affected whether communication skills were taught explicitly. Prominent trends were that communication skills in tasks aimed at non-scientific audiences were taught more explicitly than in tasks aimed at scientific audiences, and the majority of group and multimedia tasks taught communication elements more explicitly than individual, or written and oral tasks. Implications for science communication in the BSc and further research are discussed.
Keyword Science communication
Undergraduate skills
Higher education
Science education
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Sustainable Minerals Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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