PopScience: Teaching students to Communicate Scientific Findings to the General Public

Margaret J. Gill



Scientific communication has become more important than ever before, yet most scientists are not trained in how to communicate their research findings to the general public. The PopScience assignment is a semester-long writing and oral communication project that focuses on how to communicate primary scientific literature to the general public. The overall goals of the PopScience project are to teach students how to: 1) critically evaluate neuroscience primary literature, and 2) translate and convey primary literature findings to a lay audience. Students completed a pre- and post- assignment perceptive assessment to evaluate the skills they obtained (e.g., reading comprehension and critical thinking), and the effectiveness of the assignment in improving these skills. Students reported that overall, the assignment improved their ability to read primary literature articles and explain them to a lay audience. Self-evaluation and professor assessments suggest the PopScience assignment also improved student’s ability to integrate and summarize results from multiple sources, as well as identify and explain neuroscience terminology that often leads to confusion for lay audiences. In conclusion, this assignment teaches students how to communicate basic neuroscience to the general public, a skill that continues to be critical in successful scientific careers.