Effects of Popular Science Writing Instruction on General Education Student Attitudes Towards Science: A Case Study in Astronomy
Keywords:Science writing, introductory course, general education, Astronomy Education, astronomy education, Discipline-Based Educational Research (DBER), education, Education;, higher education, college, writing across the curriculum (WAC), writing in the disciplines (WiD)
For many students, introductory college science courses are often the only opportunity in their formal higher education to be exposed to science, shaping their view of the subject, their scientific literacy, and their attitudes towards their own ability in STEM. While science writing instruction has been demonstrated to impact attitudes and outlooks of STEM majors in their coursework, this instructional strategy has yet to be explored for non-majors. In this work, we investigate student attitudes towards STEM before and after taking a writing-intensive introductory astronomy course. We find that students cite writing about science as beneficial to their learning, deepening their understanding of science topics and their perspective on science as a field and finding writing to be a ``bridge'' between STEM content and their focus on humanities in their majors. Students also report increased perceptions of their own ability and confidence in engaging with STEM across multiple metrics, leaving the course more prepared to be informed, engaged, and science literate citizens.