Effects of Popular Science Writing Instruction on General Education Student Attitudes Towards Science: A Case Study in Astronomy





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.

Author Biographies

Briley L. Lewis, UCLA

Briley Lewis is a PhD Candidate in the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy, a Teaching Fellow in the UCLA Clusters program, and a participant in the UCLA CIRTL STAR and UCLA Graduate Certificate in Writing Pedagogy programs.

K. Supriya, UCLA

K. Supriya is the Associate Director for Student Success at UCLA's Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences (CEILS) and hosts pedagogy training for graduate students through UCLA's Center for the Integration of Research Teaching and Learning (CIRTL).

Graham H. Read, UCLA

Graham Read is a PhD candidate in UCLA's Molecular Biology Institute, and a Teaching Assistant Consultant (TAC) for UCLA CIRTL's STAR program.

Kaitlin L. Ingraham Dixie, UCLA

Katie Dixie is the CIRTL@UCLA Communications Coordinator and Assistant Director at UCLA's Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences.

Anthony R. Friscia, UCLA

Tony Friscia is the director of the UCLA Cluster Program and an associate adjunct professor in UCLA's Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology.

Rachel Kennison, UCLA

Rachel is the director of UCLA CEILS and an Associate Professor in Life Sciences.