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Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club

Taking Action: Applying Teaching Techniques to Science Content to Increase Student Science Literacy

The Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club, a cooperative effort of the Teaching Effectiveness Program and the Science Literacy Program, will continue to explore methods for improving teaching and increasing students’ science literacy. We will discuss how to apply these ideas to our classrooms. Participants are invited to join the whole series or stop by for a specific conversation.

We will have two meetings for participants to choose from each week:

Thursdays at 9:00 am in 217 Lewis Integrative Sciences Building, facilitated by Julie Mueller of TEP
Fridays at 4:00 pm in 217 Lewis Integrative Sciences Building, facilitated by Elly Vandegrift, Associate Director of the Science Literacy Program

Please join us for our first meetings April 4 or 5, where we will discuss our focus for the rest of the quarter. Send any questions you may have to

Readings, discussion summaries, and Teaching Take-Aways (cogent teaching advice derived from our journal club discussions) are now available in several locations:

(NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)

Jump to:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10

Week 1:

Welcome back! We hope you all had a chance to catch your breath during Spring Break and are ready to start the new term with renewed enthusiasm.

Our activities this quarter in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club will follow the general theme of Taking Action: Applying Teaching Techniques to Science Content to Increase Student Science Literacy. In general, we will spend one week reading about a technique or method and the following week volunteers will use the method to teach some science content, with special attention to addressing aspects of science literacy. To refresh our memories about what’s important as far as science literacy, we will start the term by reading the article “The Meaning of Scientific Literacy,” by Jack Holbrook and Miia Rannikmae, Int. J. Env. & Sci. Educ. 4, 275 (2009).

Please help us continue to improve the journal club! If have not already done so, we'd like to ask that you please take 5-10 minutes to provide some feedback about your experience with the journal club during Winter Term. We look forward to reading your comments and continuing to make improvements. Follow the link below to complete the survey:

We will continue to offer two journal club sessions to choose from each week. In a new development, BOTH sessions will meet in the snazzy new conference room in the Lewis Integrative Sciences Building:

Hope to see you there,
Elly and Julie


Week 2:

This week in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club we will begin the first of our “Taking Action” modules: Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL). During our meetings this week, we will discuss a couple of articles that lay out what POGIL is and factors to consider when implementing it in large classes. To prepare for this week’s meeting, please read:

Next week, our volunteer facilitators will use POGIL to teach us some science content.


Week 3:

This week in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club our volunteer facilitators will put into practice the POGIL method we discussed last week, using it to teach science content. Please read the section below for the specific journal club meeting you plan to attend:

Thursday: Richard Wagner and Samantha Mellin will guide us through an exercise about ways to protect digital messages from errors in transmission. To prepare for the meeting, they ask that you read the following short introductory paragraphs:

"In information science, error-free transmission of information is very important. We need to be able to protect against any errors that have happened during the transmission of information. Error protection encompasses both error detection (knowing that an error occurred during transmission) and error correction (fixing the error).

For us, information is defined as the number of bits (binary digits, 1s and 0s) that make up a message. It does not refer to the meaning of the message, its interpretation or its importance, just the raw bit-count.

How messages are formed relies on the transmission code. A code is a list of code words along with a protocol. Code words are combinations of symbols that translate to something with meaning. A protocol is a system for forming a message using the code words. For example, Morse code has code words made up of dots and dashes and the protocol determines things such as the duration of a dash, the time delay between letters and the time delay between words. We will talk exclusively about binary codes, codes that translate alphanumeric symbols into binary numbers of 1s and 0s.”

Friday: On Friday, Alex Whitebirch will guide us through an exercise about The Nuclear Atom. Please bring a calculator to the meeting with you.


Week 4:

This week in the Scientific Literacy Teaching Journal Club we will read two articles about screencasting. To prepare for this week's meeting, please read:

We will watch some screencasts during our time together. Next week, our volunteer facilitators will prepare short screencasts using a variety of available software and share their experiences with us.

Additionally, we are pleased to share that Leilani Rapaport, a reporter from the Oregon Daily Emerald, who is also a student in Geol 110: People, Rocks, and Fire this term, has produced the following video:

The featured course was designed through the Science Literacy Program by Alan Rempel and Andie Rempel. Win McLaughlin, a Graduate SLP Fellow, is such a great spokesperson for the program! The video also features Dylan Cottrell, Alex Whitebirch, and Kate Liddle Broberg interacting with students in the course in their role as Undergraduate SLP Scholars. Nice work, everyone!


Week 5:

This week in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club, we will continue our exploration of screencast technology with a look at the screencasts our journal club volunteers have put together. Each person has used a different program to create a screencast on a topic of their choice. We will spend some time discussing the relative merits of the software as well what people found to be easy or difficult in the production process.

Recall that our meetings this week will take place in the OCO Conference Room, 240D Willamette, so that we can spend a little time checking out the room’s newly-installed SMART board. As usual, there will be two meetings to choose from:

Thursday morning at 9 am, facilitated by Julie Mueller, TEP
Friday afternoon at 4 pm, facilitated by Elly Vandegrift, SLP

Note also that this is Week 5 of the quarter, a great time to get some student feedback about how things are going in your course! TEP recommends asking a few simple questions, with perhaps a few others to address issues specific to your course. Consider asking these questions:

Once students have completed the survey, thank them and talk about the results in class, even if you won’t be implementing any of their suggestions! This makes the students feel that you actually care what they think, predisposing them to evaluate you favorably in the future. The conversation also makes it more likely that you will follow through on any planned changes. For details on how to implement the survey, please see the TEP website at:


Week 6:

This week in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club we will start our study of the use of various forms of comics in science courses. To get an idea of the variety of comics that exist and some examples of how they can be used, please read:

For those who are interested in re-viewing or using the great screencasts made and presented last week by volunteer facilitators Mark Lonergan, Hillary Nadeau, Brian Wells, and Gesa Welker, links will be posted on the SciLit website: If you plan to use one of the screencasts for your own purposes, please contact the author first.

If you conducted a midterm assessment of teaching last week, don’t forget to talk about the results with your students and work on implementing any changes you’ve decided to make!


Week 7:

This week in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club we will continue our study of how to use comics in science with an activity led by Samantha Mellin and David Grych on Thursday and Jana Prikryl, Win McLaughlin, and Ann Petersen on Friday. To prepare for our activities this week, please have a look at a couple of comics designed to teach science content:

Hillary Nadeau pointed out another interesting use of cartoon animation to convey science content. She originally heard the story on NPR's Radio Lab, then later discovered the animation.


Week 8:

We have some exciting events coming up the next couple of weeks in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club, so mark your calendar! This week we will begin our study of the development and use of demonstrations to teach science concepts. Because not everyone has (or will have in a future job) access to a library of demos maintained by their department, we wanted to highlight low-cost, easy-to-implement demonstrations. To prepare for our meetings this week, please read two very short articles and do a quick search:

Bridging Activities: Concrete to Abstract. Jim Hicks, Physics Teacher 51, 252 (2013).

Garage Demos: Using Physical Models to Illustrate Dynamic Aspects of Microscopic Biological Processes. D. K. O’Dowd and N. Aguilar-Roca, CBE Life Sciences Educ. 8, 118 (2009).

Find a resource for demonstrations (preferably low-cost) relevant to your discipline. Please email the reference to Julie at so we can compile and post them on the Science Literacy Program Website. If you find something that looks great, please be prepared to talk about it at our meeting too!

Please note that our week 8 meetings will be held at the usual location (LISB 217).
Looking ahead, we invite you to two special events that the Science Literacy Program will host during our regular journal club hours during week 9:


Week 9:

We have several special events coming up for the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club, so mark your calendar! Please see the attached fliers for more information.

During our regular week 9 journal club hours, the Science Literacy Program will host the following events in the OCO Conference Room (240D Willamette):


Week 10:

Welcome to the final week of the term. There are several announcements this week.

1. For our last journal club meeting of the term Sam Hopkins, Justin Stockwell, Adam Unger, and Dean Walton will lead us through some sample garage demos covering a range of topics. If you'd like a sample of biology garage demos visit Diane O'Dowd's webpage.

2. We are also ready to start collecting feedback about the journal club through the following link Thank you for taking time to help us make the experience better for you.

3. We are recruiting undergraduate SLP scholars and graduate SLP fellows for fall term. Please contact Elly for more information.

4. Kate Liddle Broberg, a University of Oregon student and a Science Literacy Program Undergraduate scholar is working with the University of Oregon Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program Alumni Group to put on a text book drive and sends the following request.

Inside-Out is a prison education program that provides opportunities for university and incarcerated students to learn together. As alumni of this program, we are putting on a book drive to donate to the library at the Oregon State Penitentiary, a state prison located in Salem. There is a huge need at the prison for textbooks (and books in general) and the texts collected will make a big difference for incarcerated individuals working hard to change their lives. Education is an important way to reduce recidivism, yet many incarcerated individuals face financial barriers preventing them from buying textbooks.

If you have any text books, or other course materials that you are not using we would be incredibly grateful if you would be willing to donate them to this book drive. Collection boxes will be placed at the Duckstore buy-back, in the Honors College lounge and library (Chapman 305 and 301 respectively), the biology office (Klamath 77), and outside of the business advising office (Peterson 203). Please drop off any
materials you would like to donate at one of these locations during the final two weeks of the term (week 10 and finals week).

Thank you so much for your time and please feel free to contact me (, or Nina Sobotka (, with any questions. We encourage you to share this information with any of your colleagues, students, or friends who may also be interested in donating!

Thank you,

Kate LB