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How to advance scientific literacy
Date:9/3/2009

As researchers into communication about science, these authors illustrate that building a public that is more receptive to science requires more than enhancing scientific literacy. They emphasize that science communication efforts need to be based on a systematic, empirical understanding of the intended audience's existing values, knowledge, and attitudes, their interpersonal and social contexts, and their preferred media sources and communication channels.

Taken together, this set of papers captures current issues about the public understanding of science, illustrates why greater emphasis on helping students understand and appreciate the process of science is so important, and provides insights and perspectives on what all practicing scientists can do to build a more receptive audience. It appears that in some respects academic scientists are contributing to the problem because we tend to teach content (facts about biology) rather than process (how to learn about biology). We need to help our students understand how scientists actually do our work, and we should learn about the social dynamics involved with scientific communication. Each of the papers presents different elements of making us more aware of the challenges we face, better prepared to help our students appreciate and learn about science, and in general enhancing our capacity to change the future. Practicing scientists should be active participants in making sure that scientific literacy improves for new generations of students.


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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert

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