Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Major

Teaching-Learning Processes

Date of Defense

7-25-2012

Graduate Advisor

E. Wendy Saul

Committee

Joseph L. Polman

Nancy R. Singer

Lisa Dorner

Abstract

This qualitative study examined the importance of the genre and authenticity as teachers sought to bring science journalism to the high school science classroom. Undertaken as part of the National Science Foundation-funded grant “Science Literacy through Science Journalism (SciJourn),” this work was conducted as a series of smaller studies addressing the following issues: the definition of the genre from the point of view of professional journalists; teachers’ motivation for joining the SciJourn project; qualities of science teachers compared to science journalists; science teachers’ approach to writing and writing response; and the teachers’ reflections on their own implementation strategies. Data collected included surveys, field notes from observations, in depth phenomenological interviews, focus groups, science news articles, and teacher/editor feedback. Qualitative textual analysis and critical discourse analysis were used to analyze the data. Analysis showed that the genre of science news was especially promising for classroom adaptation for several reasons. Science journalism, as practiced by those with a strong background in science, occupies a space between the world of scientists and the world of non-scientists where new and highly technical information is contextualized and made relevant to the general public. As students and teachers engaged with science news both as consumers and producers, they came to appreciate the importance of science and to see science as an interesting, relevant field. Science teachers did not join the project because of a strong interest in the genre, but they did share several qualities with science journalists (including a broad understanding of science and a commitment to “translate” that understanding for a less-informed audience); these shared qualities may have helped teachers appreciate the genre and implement it authentically. The professional development proved particularly useful since teachers were able to draw on their own experiences writing science news during PD activities in order to work with their students. Access to a professional science editor and the possibility of student publication were also recognized as central to teacher development.

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