The use of popular science articles in teaching scientific literacy
This article considers the use of popular science articles in teaching scientific literacy. Comparing the discourse features of popular science with research article and textbook science – the last two being target forms for students – it argues that popular science articles cannot serve as models for scientific writing. It does, however, suggest that popular articles can make science more accessible to students, and so can play a useful role in the teaching of scientific writing as well as in the teaching of science. This is because popular science articles view scientific findings as provisional rather than as incontrovertible fact as they are presented in textbooks or as they appear to be presented in research articles. Another feature of popular articles is that they are peopled with large numbers of specific scientists, thus representing scientists as ordinary people rather than as a few exceptional people of iconic status as is the case in textbooks.