Effects of prompting critical reading of science news on seventh graders' cognitive achievement

Pei Ying Tsai, Sufen Chen, Huey Por Chang, Wen Hua Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Science teachers frequently select science news articles as supplementary teaching materials; however, the literature indicates that students encounter difficulties in examining and evaluating the news content and textual elements. This paper reports an instructional strategy of utilizing science news articles and investigates its effectiveness in enhancing students' cognitive learning outcomes. In this quasi-experimental study, 118 seventh graders from four classes in one secondary school in Taiwan took part in the Science News Instruction (SNI). After eight weeks of instruction about Genetics and Reproduction, all students were requested to present their written arguments to the selected science news article. Two of the classes were prompted to link to their science content knowledge (the CK-SNI group, n=56), whereas their counterpart peers were not instructed to link to their science content knowledge (the SNI group, n=62). The analysis of students' written artifacts revealed that the CK-SNI group performed significantly better on examining the data and claims made in the science news, producing warrants of higher quality to support their reasoning about the relationship between data and claims, and providing better reasons to refute the identified causal textual elements. Furthermore, the results of ANCOVA indicate that the CK-SNI group outperformed the SNI group on the cognitive test, with the largest improvement at Apply level (ηp2=.10). We conclude that prompting students to examine news content based on the content knowledge they learned is effective in fostering students to evaluate the science news critically, and thus make a positive impact on students' cognitive learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-107
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental and Science Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Argumentation
  • Content knowledge
  • Critical reading
  • Science learning
  • Science news

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Engineering


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