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Public PhD Defense of Sara Soares

Sara Palma Soares, a PhD candidate in the Doctoral Program in Psychology supervised through a joint supervision agreement with the Université Libre de Bruxelles, will defend her thesis titled "Why do we learn science better when it looks like a novel?". The public defense is scheduled for April 4 at 10:00 at the B1.02 Auditorium of Iscte-University Institute of Lisbon. You can attend via Zoom, Meeting ID: 87899511033.


Science is pervasive, and everyone can benefit from learning it. Yet, it is also challenging for reasons stemming from a gap between everyday and scientific thinking modes. The present work endorses the proposal of foregrounding the literacy component of science education, by thoroughly examining the impact of narrative texts as literacy-mediated science learning tools. We proposed a dialogue between multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks and identified two complementary questions for tackling the issue of learning from science narrative texts, pertaining, firstly, to learning outcomes and, secondly, to the conditions and processes generating them (Chapter 2). We developed learning materials to investigate these questions (Chapter 3). Regarding learning outcomes, a behavioural study and a combined behavioural and eye tracking study (Chapters 4 and 5) showed that young adults with low prior science knowledge learn from science narrative texts at various comprehension levels. The former study showed that this learning can be superior or equivalent to the one yielded by expository texts, depending on the science topic. Regarding learning conditions and processes, the same studies showed that a set of learner features jointly contribute to this learning. The latter study further showed that attention to and thoughts on human action make independent contributions to learning (Chapter 5). Finally, a qualitative study revealed how narrative texts and museums can help bridge gaps between people and science (Chapter 6). Overall, results suggest that narrative texts can be a useful tool for science learning and can bring learners closer to the human facet of science.



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