Bridging Science Education and Science Communication Research- A review

Aim of research

This article aims to build better awareness of what science education and communication research have to contribute to each other in a bid to bridge the gap between the two fields.

Common goal

Both science education and science communication share common goals such as educating, entertaining and engaging the public with and about science. Despite their common goals, both fields have evolved to be dissimilar such that each pays little attention to the other.

Science education

The priority in Science education is education itself while entertainment and engagement are deemed to be by-products.It considers ‘what science says’ and ‘how scientists do things’ as the truth that frames the model for what students should learn.One of its goal is to educate the next generation of scientists and to engage, stimulate and sustain students’ interest in science. Another goal is to produce individuals who are able to make informed decisions about scientific issues. An expected outcome of formal science education is that students should be able to understand and respond critically to media reports of issues with a science aspect and feel empowered to hold and express a personal point of view on issues with a science aspect.

Science communication

The priority in Science communication is engagement.It considers ‘what Science says’ as only one of the many types of pertinent knowledge and ‘how scientists do things’ as an unsatisfactory way of making sense of the world.

An attempt to bridge the gap: Overview of the 4 articles

In the 1st article, Feinstein states that in order to support students’ engagement with science in their lives, they need to be showed how to work collectively, thus making education in science more relevant and enabling for students. In the 2nd article, Blanco-Lopez and co authors emphasise the importance of core skills, attitudes and values as compared to knowledge, in the area of education. In the 3rd article, Besley and co-authors state that within the context of public engagement with science, sharing knowledge in ways that interest individuals is still a key element of science communication by scientists, with the emphasis shifting from information transmission skills to thinking about science communication as a dialogue with the public.

In the 4th article, Pryce Davis and Rosemary Russ highlight the significance of framing in science education, such that teachers frame the science they present to their students, which allows meaning to be constructed from science texts. For science communication, the authors argue that there is a need to employ a range of frames to highlight different features of research. Hence, they conclude by stating that framing has the potential to bridge the gap between science education and science communication.

Bridging science education and science communication

Both field share the same assumption that content knowledge matters the most. The deficit model underscores the assumption that the more scientific information the public has, the more its decisions will support or agree with the scientific consensus, and the more sympathy the public would garner toward science. In order to deliver its goal of educating students to be able to make enlightened choices, science education needs to broaden its conception of what aspects of scientific knowledge it should address. Hence besides content knowledge, the other types of knowledge required to critically read science reports would be knowledge of collecting data, interpreting data, the role of modelling in science, the role of uncertainty in science and how science is communicated to the public.

On the contrary, science communication rebuts that people make meaning of the science they encounter in their lives using different narratives based on culturally relevant prior knowledge, that may or may not include science. It argues that to reduce the epistemic distance between experts and individuals, attempts to engage the public in dialogue, rather than more content knowledge should be fostered.

Hence considering the points highlighted by different authors, some approaches could be adopted to bridge the gap between the 2 fields. A common vision of the role and importance of science in contemporary society should be shared between science education and science communication to bridge the gap. Both fields should aim to foster critical engagement rather than blind devotion. Since a lack of communication between the 2 fields hinders the identification of shared ideas, trends and methods, establishing a link between the fields by surveying experts about the needs of adult publics so as to inform science education aimed at school students should be considered. In addition to that, educational perspectives such as argumentation could be used to study science communication while basic communication concepts such as framing, could be used in science education.

Reference

  1. Ayelet B., & Jonathan.,(2015). Bridging Science Education and Science Communication Research. Journal of Research In Science Teaching. 52(2).(135-140).
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