Harmonising the teaching of scientific communication skills through the development of an e-learning tool

Willems-Jones AJ1 and Russell J2

  1. The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Melbourne.
  2. Department of Medical Education, Melbourne Medical School, The University of Melbourne.

Effective communication is a fundamental graduate attribute. University graduates are expected to be critical thinkers who can apply their knowledge and research skills to solve complex problems in a range of contexts. Developing and applying these skills requires a consistent approach to teaching and assessment of scientific communication at the undergraduate level. Despite being taught by leading academics with an abundance of scientific communication experience, anecdotal student feedback suggests that instruction across disciplines varies; creating student confusion and a lack of confidence in scientific literacy more broadly. Given the importance of preparing research-ready graduates, our project adopted a multidisciplinary approach to harmonise teaching scientific communication skills across subjects in the School of Biomedical Sciences. This was achieved through the development of an e-learning module designed to teach the requisite skills that can be applied across all forms of scientific communication. The module is innovative in enhancing the scientific literacy skills of students. Through the completion of the activities embedded within the two-level module, students can develop, practice and demonstrate their critical thinking and communication skills, as well as improve their understanding of scientific writing. An added benefit of the module is a strengthening in student understanding of scientific communication (and associated skills) more broadly, thereby improving student employability.