A key graduate attribute expected of science undergraduates is effective communication of science to the public. We recently developed a “media role” model to demonstrate how scientists, media, students and the public communicate science, resulting in the use of an Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed) as a novel assessment task in a third-year Physiology course. Here, we present evidence from the second-phase study (one group, pretest-posttest) that shows that explicit teaching of the Op-Ed improved the ability of science students to write for the public. The baseline writing ability of the students was assessed from a Communication Assignment (weighted 8%) in which they presented key data from a scientific paper to the public. The assignment was marked according to a criteria sheet and students provided with comprehensive feedback. Students were then explicitly instructed in the writing of an Op-Ed by a professional journalist and provided with exemplars. The students then presented data from another unrelated scientific paper in the Op-Ed format (weighted 12%). For the Communication Assignment, the average percentage was 74.7 % ± 11.9 (n = 204). Using the same criteria, the students achieved a significantly higher grade for their Op-Ed (84.8 % ± 9.1%; p < 0.05, n = 218). The two assignments from a student whose marks had improved in the Op-Ed were then distributed to 82 members of the public who were surveyed on their responses to both texts. The surveys showed that the respondents found the Op-Ed easier to understand. This study highlights that explicit teaching of an Op-Ed embedded in the context of learning science is a useful pedagogical strategy to improve communication skills of the students.