The use of haiku to convey complex concepts in neuroscience

Alexia E. Pollack, Donna L. Korol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Conveying scientific content with accuracy and fluency takes practice and requires deep understanding of the concepts being conveyed. This depth of knowledge comes from internalizing information and constructing it into a form that is unique and coherent to the individual. Often in science classrooms there is little or no opportunity for students to practice this type of thinking, activities that we believe are fundamental to effective science communication. This article describes the use of haiku - a 17 syllable poem - as a means for students to convey neurobiological concepts in a succinct manner by forcing them to focus on the most salient features of the observed processes. In our assignments haiku writing was successfully paired with explanations of the students' thought processes (Addiction course) or the scientific evidence to support claims (Neurodegenerative Disease course). We provide examples of student haiku and explanations as evidence of the power of this approach. The coupling of poetry and prose together create rich, accurate descriptions of scientific phenomena by encouraging higher-order thinking. Poetry writing can thus be used across the curriculum to forge comprehension of complex ideas in any discipline and to bridge the arts and the sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A42-A48
JournalJournal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Deconstructing science
  • Innovative assignments
  • Non-traditional STEM writing
  • Poetry
  • Science haiku
  • Scientific literacy
  • Writing to learn
  • Written communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Education


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