Course Manual FI-MSECITS Issues and Theories in Science Education and Communication (2019-2020, semester 1)

Aims | Course proceedings | Schedule | Assessment | Literature| Searching literature | APA-style | Revisions History | Forward to literature list >


Aims of the course

In this course, you will acquaint yourself with some basic issues and theories in science[1] education and communication. At the one hand, there are questions about how people learn and behave, and how these insights can be used to make science education and communication effective. However, it makes no sense to talk about effectiveness, unless you are clear about the goals you are striving for, so an equally important issue will be about the desirable aims and outcomes for science education and communication. In this course, you will gain insight in research perspectives on these issues, and you will apply your insights to a concrete issue in your internship organisation.

After completing this course, you will:

Course proceedings

Part I

In the first part of the course, we will adress four broad topics. Each topic will be introduced in a plenary lecture, after which you will read a set of articles for discussion in the working group. The purpose of these discussions is not primarily to defend a particular viewpoint, but at least as much to understand and explore implications [2]. As the interest of students may vary (some more geared towards formal education, some more towards public communication), you will have the opportunity to compose working groups with students of like interests, and there will be some room for the groups to put their own focus in the discussions. Active participation in all work group sessions is a requirement for successful completion of the course. For each session, you will be expected to read the agreed core literature and prepare for discussion.  

For each article, one student will be asked to do a brief presentation and get a discussion going. As the presenter/discussant for an article, you will have 7 minutes for your introduction. Since everybody read the papers, presentations will not repeat all details in the article, rather you will identify and evaluate the essential 'line of reasoning' in the paper. The main criterion for your presentation is the quality of the group discussion you will get going. If, due to illness, you are unable to present and you know so more than a day in advance please arrange for your replacement yourself.

In order to facilitate interaction, you will be asked to have your name card placed in front of you in all sessions.

Moreover, as part of the course, you will write two trial essays and one final essay. You will get feedback on those, you will give feedback on the essays of others, and you will revise your trial essays based on the feedback you get. Requirements for the essays are detailed below.

Part II

In the second part of the course, starts with literature discussion groups again, but now your group will have selected four topics topic from the Specializations list for more in-depth study. Finally, you will select one of those topics to write policy brief/advisory report about.


Most course information will be available through this webpage. We will use the Blackboard learning environment for group communication and for restricted circulation documents (, for help with login problems see the UU student help pages). Finally, we will use Revisely for submitting essays and for giving feedback on them ( At the start of the course you will receive instructions about the use of Revisely.

Working Language

The working language in this course is English. This will explicitly apply for:

For the group discussions, if all participants in a group master the Dutch language at a (near) native level, it is up to the group to choose their working language.

For the case study/advisory report you may choose either Dutch or English, whichever is most appropriate for the intended audience.

Schedule, Groups and Teaching staff

The table below presents an overview of sessions and themes by week. Dates mentioned are just for convenience. For up-to-date scheduling and room information please rely on the information found in MyTimeTable, for up-to-date submission deadlines please rely on the dates as posted in the electronic submission system.

Week Meetings Submission deadlines/instructor feedback 
1 (Sep 2) Introduction/Lecture - C1
2 (Sep 9) -
3 (Sept 16) Working Group, set C1 Trial Essay 1 (Sept 20) 
4 (Sept 23) Lecture - C2 2x Peer Feedback (Sept 27) 
5 (Sept 30) Working Group, set C2 Extended Trial Essay 1 (Oct 4) 
6 (Oct 7) Lecture - C3 & C4 Instructor feedback
7 (Oct 14) Working Group, set C3  
8 (Oct 21) -
9 (Oct 28) Working Group, set C4 Trial Essay 2 (Nov 1) 
10 (Nov 4)  Plenary - reflection and kick-off Instructor feedback
11 (Nov 11)  Working Group, choice of S1-9  
12 (Nov 18) Working Group, choice of S1-9  
13 (Nov 25) Working Group, choice of S1-9 Policy brief/advisory report proposal (Dec 7)
14 (Dec 2) - 2x Peer Feedback (Dec 14)
15 (Dec 9) Working Group, presentation and feedback  
16 (Dec 16) - Final Essay (Dec 20) - 50% Instructor: go/no go
17 (Dec 23)
18 (Dec 30)    
19 (Jan 6) Working Group, presentation and feedback Policy brief/advisory report draft (Jan 10)
20 (Jan 13) - 2x Peer Feedback (Jan 17)
21 (Jan 20) Working Group, presentation and feedback  
22 (Jan 27) - Policy brief/advisory report (Feb 2) -50%

black: course literature and essays, blue: policy paper

Teaching staff

Study load and Assessment

General guidelines for writing assignments

Contents and Style

Format and layout


Feedback and grading

Peer feedback

Specific guidelines and deadlines

First trial essay

Extended second trial essay

Second trial essay

Final essay

Policy brief/advisory report proposal

Policy brief/Advisory report


Writing tips and exercises

Course Literature

The focus in the reading assignments is on primary research literature. For this course, we selected articles that could provide accessible reading to a novice audience, and that would give food for thought. Although most readings are from leading research journals in this field, this does not imply that all conclusions drawn are beyond doubt, or that the instructors endorse all conclusions drawn. Several (review) articles were taken from science journals or professional journals such as Science, Scientific American, or American Psychologist. While these are not really educational research journals, the articles provide accessible introductions for non-specialists, mostly written by leading experts in the field.

The full list of course literature can be found here. For copyrights reasons, we are not allowed to host pdfs on university servers, so please download yourself. All links should work from within the UU (if they don't, see the next section for tips), many links are publicly available as well. In the additional resources you will find some references to book chapters. These are not available for public download. If you would like to consult one of these chapters, please ask your instructor.

In case you are looking for some general introduction into this field, you might consider:

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L.,& Cocking, R.R. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. (Free download available at:; you need to register, and download takes quite a while).

Searching, finding, and getting access to literature

In the field of education, there is no single comprehensive bibliography that would cover all research literature. In general, seems the most helpful tool to find literature.

In the UU-library’s  collection of bibliographies, the following education-related bibliographies might be helpful: Psychinfo, ERIC. If you have found a classic article on your topic already, and you want to know what has happened in the field more recently, your tool of choice is the (Social) Science Citation Index (provided as Web of Science).

One very specific bibliography that deserves mention here is the one by Duit and Pfundt, who collected about 8000 studies on misconceptions/alternative conceptions. Consult this database in Refworks format here

The university provides full-text access to numerous journals and (e)books. In order to read the full texts, you need to be logged in through the university (on campus or at home through a portal, or proxy). For further instructions, see the library instructions page.

Several links on the course literature page refer to subscription only journals. In order to get access from at home, you might add “” in front of the url. So, if the original URL is: /science/article/pii/S0003066X07605723

you insert the proxy like this:

This can be done automatically if you bookmark the following link in your browser: "use UU library proxy".  If you are on a journal page, clicking the bookmark will insert the proxy in front of your URL. In some browsers, you might get a security warning, upon which you will accept the uu proxy as a trusted source.


Citing references and the use of APA-style

The proper use of, and reference to, scientific sources is an essential aspect of scientific writing in any domain. If you ever submit a manuscript, it is likely that the editors will check your literature references even before sending out your paper for review. During your master’s studies, you will need to refer to the literature in almost every course, and instructors may follow the same policies as editors do, so it may be helpful to master the conventions of literature referencing in this particular field. Most scholarly journals and books in the social sciences will have their articles formatted according to the style guidelines as prescribed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2009). The Publication Manual has guidelines for almost many aspect of the writing process, ranging from the structure of the paper, the use of clear and non-biased language, the layout of tables and, most relevant for this course, the use and lay out of references to the literature. First and foremost (and this in not limited to APA), if you refer to the literature, you need to be specific: it should be clear to the reader what exactly is being ascribed to the literature, even if the reader doesn’t know the publication you are referring to. Especially, it would be relevant for the reader to know whether you a referring to an opinion or to a research finding:




Rewards should be avoided in the classroom (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999)


Rewards undermine intrinsic motivation for learning (for a review see, Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999). Therefore, rewards are generally to be avoided.

Although people report that rewards increase their motivation, their behaviour shows otherwise: rewards decrease the likelihood that people will go on learning after the rewards stops. Moreover, learning with rewards tends to be more superficial (for a review see, Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999). Therefore, rewards in education are generally to be avoided.

As you might notice, unlike in many natural science publications, author names appear in the text. The first reference to a particular paper includes all author names. If there are two authors at most, every subsequent citation will look the same (De Jong & Ferguson-Hessler, 1986).  If there are more than two authors, all subsequent references will only mention the first followed by ‘et al.’ (for instance, Deci et al., 1999). If there are six or more authors, all citations, including the first, will be abbreviated using ‘et al.’.

If you quote a phrase literally, the phrase will be between parentheses and the reference will include a page number:

Dearden proposes an epistemic criterion of a controversial issue: “a matter is controversial if contrary views can be held on it without these views being contrary to reason” (1981, p. 38).

Sometimes you might want to mention the authors’ names in your sentence, for instance if you want to say that Deci et al. (1999) conducted a meta-analytic review. In that case you will omit the authors’ names from the part between parentheses. Typically, the authors of research papers will be real people of flesh and blood. Government reports may or may not have real people as authors. If not, an organization, such as a ministry, can also be an author (for instance, APA, 2009; OCW, 2011).

At the end of your manuscript (after the acknowledgements, but before the appendices), you will put the reference list. All sources you have referred to in your text should be in the list, and all items in the list should be referred to in your text. Layout for each item will be slightly different, depending on the type of source you are referring to:

Article in periodical

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C.  (1996). Title of journal article. Title of Journal, volume number, first page-last page. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.125.6.627

Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 627-668. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.125.6.627

The 'doi’ is the document object identifier. If available, you would include this as a convenient way to uniquely identify the resource.

For most scientific journals, page are numbered consecutively throughout the entire volume. In that the issue number is not mentioned in the reference. Some journals restart page numbering for each issue. In that case, you would add the issue number to the volume number as follows: 125(3).


Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (publication year). Title of book. City, Country: Publisher.

Anderson, J. R. (1993). Rules of the mind. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Author, A. A. (publication year). Title of chapter. In E. E. Editor (Ed.), Title of book (pp. first page-last page). City, Country: Publisher.

Savelsbergh, E. R., De Jong, T., & Ferguson-Hessler, M. G. M. (1998). Competence-related differences in problem representations: a study in physics problem solving. In M. van Someren, P. Reimann, H. P. A. Boshuizen & T. de Jong (Eds.), The role of multiple representations in learning and problem solving (pp. 263-282). Amsterdam: Pergamon.

Newspaper Article

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from

Parker-Pope, T. (2008, May 6). Psychiatry handbook linked to drug industry. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Online Forum or Discussion Board Posting

Quid, J. (2010, Oct 5). En de Nobelprijs gaat naar: NEDERLAND! Message archived at

Include the title of the message, and the URL of the newsgroup or discussion board. Please note that titles for items in online communities (e.g. blogs, newsgroups, forums) are not italicized. If the author's name is not available, provide the screen name. Place identifiers like post or message numbers, if available, in brackets. If available, provide the URL where the message is archived (e.g. "Message posted to..., archived at...").

Television Broadcast or Series Episode

Producer, P. P. (Producer). (Date of broadcast or copyright). Title of broadcast [Television broadcast]. City of origin: Studio or distributor.

Finally, the APA-conventions with regard to references can be very specific, and if you are referring to a more unusual type of material, such as a newspaper, a television broadcast, or a website, you might want to consult one of the many tutorials available on the web for specifics (see for instance,


APA (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th Ed.). Washington, DC American Psychological Association.

Revisions History


2017-2018 block 3

2017-2018 block 1

2016-2017 block 1

2015-2016 Block 3

In response to student feedback:

[1] The term “science” will be taken to refer to biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science.

[2] Tannen, D. (2000). Agonism in the Academy: Surviving Higher Learning's Argument Culture. The Chronicle of Higher Education 46:30 (March 31, 2000): B7, B8. full text.