This paper reviews three teaching projects completed and ongoing at the University of Western Sydney. The common thread is the aim of finding ways to improve science communication by developing the knowledge, skills and professional practices of undergraduates, postgraduates and those working in industry whom need to communicate about science. The teaching approach involves collaborative, cross-disciplinary teaching groups which  create experiential learning environments, accommodate multiple learning styles and support a philosophy of multiliteracy and student self-realisation.

The first project involved teaching communication skills to undergraduate science students in a laboratory/practical subject. It introduced and supported the development of interpersonal and group competencies uncommon in general science graduates, oral and written communication, active listening, and both group leadership and membership.  It was upon these competencies that academic objectives of conceptual understanding of the knowledge base, problem solving, critical analysis, reflective skills and, independent learning were incorporated.

The second project involved teaching journalism students about science so that they could more effectively cover the science, information technology, environment, medical and health specialist reporting rounds. Students were introduced to these rounds in the subject Journalism: Specialty Reporting for Print and Electronic Publications.  Through the subject Special Topics in Journalism, students studied areas of science in which they were most interested eg environmental studies. Their aim was to research current issues in the field. In their final year students completed a subject called Journalism Professional Internship.Students were placed with editors and journalists at media outlets that concentrated on science, environment or information technology news. Finally, the best students were asked to complete an honours year in which more intense study and practice occurred culminating in a professional portfolio of science journalism, a learning reflection statement and a research report on one aspect of their specialist round eg women reporting on information technology.

The third project involved the design of  'A flexible, interactive, self-directed workplace- based program in technology extension for Australian regional grape growers and winemakers'. The project worked with existing initiatives to propose a model and a system of learning for growers and makers that is self-supporting and encourages interaction and innovation. Importantly it was seen to have a greater potential for uptake and adoption by grape and wine industry members. The workplace-based approach allows an alternative to a seminar or journal-based dissemination of information with the benefits of less disruption to ongoing daily activities and greater interaction and engagement with materials. The project also allows for the development of regional, interactive virtual communities of grape growers and winemakers.

In all projects the teaching team consulted with industry representatives on content, mode of delivery, assessment and evaluation approaches to enable a broad, yet reality driven focus. The results of the projects included student satisfaction; improved communication and understanding amongst academics, scientists, engineers, programmers, journalists, editors and policy makers; and a growing knowledge base for science communication education, research and practice.

The first project was funded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia through the CUTSD scheme. Co-researchers were Elizabeth Deane, Sharon Fraser and Mechelle Cheers. The third project's co-researcher is Rebecca Harris.
 






 

 

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Science > Communication

Janice Withnall   University of Western Sydney

This paper reviews three teaching projects completed and ongoing at the University of Western Sydney. The common thread is the aim of finding ways to improve science communication by developing the knowledge, skills and professional practices of undergraduates, postgraduates and those working in industry whom need to communicate about science. The teaching approach involves collaborative, cross-disciplinary teaching groups which  create experiential learning environments, accommodate multiple learning styles and support a philosophy of multiliteracy and student self-realisation.

The first project involved teaching communication skills to undergraduate science students in a laboratory/practical subject. It introduced and supported the development of interpersonal and group competencies uncommon in general science graduates, oral and written communication, active listening, and both group leadership and membership.  It was upon these competencies that academic objectives of conceptual understanding of the knowledge base, problem solving, critical analysis, reflective skills and, independent learning were incorporated.

The second project involved teaching journalism students about science so that they could more effectively cover the science, information technology, environment, medical and health specialist reporting rounds. Students were introduced to these rounds in the subject Journalism: Specialty Reporting for Print and Electronic Publications.  Through the subject Special Topics in Journalism, students studied areas of science in which they were most interested eg environmental studies. Their aim was to research current issues in the field. In their final year students completed a subject called Journalism Professional Internship.Students were placed with editors and journalists at media outlets that concentrated on science, environment or information technology news. Finally, the best students were asked to complete an honours year in which more intense study and practice occurred culminating in a professional portfolio of science journalism, a learning reflection statement and a research report on one aspect of their specialist round eg women reporting on information technology.

The third project involved the design of  'A flexible, interactive, self-directed workplace- based program in technology extension for Australian regional grape growers and winemakers'. The project worked with existing initiatives to propose a model and a system of learning for growers and makers that is self-supporting and encourages interaction and innovation. Importantly it was seen to have a greater potential for uptake and adoption by grape and wine industry members. The workplace-based approach allows an alternative to a seminar or journal-based dissemination of information with the benefits of less disruption to ongoing daily activities and greater interaction and engagement with materials. The project also allows for the development of regional, interactive virtual communities of grape growers and winemakers.

In all projects the teaching team consulted with industry representatives on content, mode of delivery, assessment and evaluation approaches to enable a broad, yet reality driven focus. The results of the projects included student satisfaction; improved communication and understanding amongst academics, scientists, engineers, programmers, journalists, editors and policy makers; and a growing knowledge base for science communication education, research and practice.

The first project was funded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia through the CUTSD scheme. Co-researchers were Elizabeth Deane, Sharon Fraser and Mechelle Cheers. The third project's co-researcher is Rebecca Harris.
 






 

 

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