Science writing as designing – An educational experiment

Science writing as designing – An educational experiment

Author: Frank Nuijens – Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Steven Flipse – Delft University of Technology

Telling stories is an important method of connecting science and society. These stories are often told by journalists as intermediaries. Students of science communication learn the “rules and regulations” of journalism and its formats. But journalism can be a conservative field that finds it difficult to move with their audience with any agility, in terms of stories told and (social) media used. Audiences nowadays partly develop their own ways of media use and news sharing.

In our science journalism course in the Master of Science Communication at Delft University of Technology, we challenged the traditional form of journalism in our curriculum. Students were no longer asked, based on a sequence of preset assignments, to write a feature article about a certain technological topic and target audience. Instead they were asked to work in groups on an interaction that would help scientists engage with a specific target audience (the public, policy makers, businesses etc.) using one of the principles or challenges of science journalism: balance, framing, fact-checking, process of science, critical thinking, jargon avoidance or objectivity. The method of developing this interaction was through a simple six-step design process, in which the students in a design thinking way explore, develop and test the various ideas for scientists sharing their stories with various audiences in various ways. Moreover, they were asked to critically reflect on traditional media and media use.

In this talk we will evaluate this teaching method and the usefulness of both its outcomes for the field of science communication and the educational benefits of treating science journalism not as a static set of rules but as a set of principles that can be used in a design process to create connections between science and society.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Teaching science communication