Ruth Jarman and Billy McClune
Maidenhead: OU 2007 | Pp216 | £19.99 | ISBN 0 335 21795 8
Reviewed by Sibel Erduran
This publication draws on funded research on the role of news media in science education, in particular in the development of students' scientific literacy skills. The book consists of 10 chapters, seven appendices, references and further reading, and an index. The text begins with an overview of literature on scientific literacy and features of news media, and how the two themes are related.
The authors subsequently turn their attention to practical implications at the level of the classroom, giving plenty of examples of how news media applies in teaching and learning. They conclude by arguing for incorporating science news reported in the media in the science curriculum. The authors make a compelling case through reference to related research literature (eg scientific literacy and public understanding of science) and provide plenty of concrete examples of how science news can be contextualised in the classroom.
Given the current curricular landscape in England and Wales with emphasis on 'How science works', this book is a timely and useful resource for science teachers and science education researchers alike. One particular area which might interest the teacher is assessment. There are some brief references to how the use of news media in the science classroom can be assessed (eg p100-101). However, considering the role of assessment in the lives of teachers and students, it would have been useful to address this issue in more detail. The content of teaching argued for in the book (ie news media) is relatively unfamiliar territory for teachers and students given the traditional emphasis on subject knowledge. Including news media in teaching materials would draw not only on subject knowledge but also other aspects such as communicating science, ethics and the culture of science.
If the authors had offered some sense of what counts, and why, in students' learning in this area, and how it might relate to subject knowledge, this would strengthen the appeal of the book. Overall, however, this book is a valuable contribution to the literature.