This Subject Update suggests three strategies to help students develop their literacy skills through science.
Find a topical or relevant scientific story in the press or from guest scientists featured in the Our Ocean Planet resource (see literacy resources at the end of this Subject Update for links to relevant websites).
Write a few lines about the discovery in a professional way, and then write a poor version.
Ask students to read them. Ask questions like:
Use this to make explicit links between effective communication and being a good scientist.
Regularly ask students to do extended writing in science: but not just lab reports, allow them to do different types of writing including journalism, diary entries, poetry and creative writing. These are some examples for Our Ocean Planet:
For formative assessment, set one science target and one literacy target. If you’re setting more formal exams, include extended answer questions of up to four marks.
An example can be found in Lesson 6 The Arctic Ocean and the water cycle, from Our Ocean Planet.
Here are some further suggestions and a template for creating your own mark scheme.
To create a mark scheme, use the template below. The literacy stays constant but you can change the content based on your question.
Content for 1-2 marks should show that students have some basic understanding, i.e. they give a partial description or explanation, or they may have made a key error. Content for 3-4 marks should show that students have a complete understanding, i.e. they give full descriptions or explanations without major errors.
Dr Ceri Lewis, Lecturer in Marine Biology, University of Exeter, biosciences.exeter.ac.uk/news
Dr Helen Findlay, Biological Oceanographer, Plymouth Marine Laboratories, pml.ac.uk/news
Dr Penny Holliday, Lead Scientist, National Oceanographic Centre, noc.ac.uk/news
Prof Alex Rogers, Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Oxford, zoo.ox.ac.uk/news
Dr Mark Brandon, Reader in Polar Oceanography, the Open University, open.ac.uk/science/main
Dr Lucy Quinn, Zoological Research Assistant, British Antarctic Survey, bas.ac.uk/media
Anjani Ganase, Coral reef PhD student, University of Queensland, Australia, gci.uq.edu.au/latest-news