1887

Learning Science Communication Skills Using Improvisation, Video Recordings, and Practice, Practice, Practice

    Authors: Nicholas M. Ponzio1,*, Janet Alder2, Mary Nucci3, David Dannenfelser4, Holly Hilton5, Nikolaos Linardopoulos6, Carol Lutz7
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Pathology, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, Newark, NJ 07101; 2: Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, Piscataway, NJ 08854; 3: Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ 08901; 4: Theater Arts program – Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ 08901; 5: Acurian Inc., Horsham, PA 19044; 6: Rutgers School of Communication and Information, New Brunswick, NJ 08901; 7: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, Newark, NJ 07101
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1433
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    Abstract:

    Doctoral students in science disciplines spend countless hours learning how to conduct cutting-edge research but very little time learning to communicate the nature and significance of their science to people outside their field. To narrow this disparity, we created an unusual course titled Communicating Science for doctoral science trainees at Rutgers University. Our goal was to help students develop an advanced ability to communicate their research clearly and accurately and to emphasize its value and significance to diverse audiences. Course design included classroom instruction supplemented with improvisation, video recordings, and ample opportunity for students to practice and receive immediate, constructive feedback in a supportive environment. A multidisciplinary faculty with expertise in science, education, communication, and theater arts taught this course. PhD students came from diverse scientific disciplines, ranging from biology and chemistry to civil engineering. Students also completed a capstone project in which they worked with a professional in the academic or private sector to explore a possible career aspiration. Assessment was in the form of feedback on students’ oral and poster presentations, and written abstracts about their research. Student evaluations and comments about course format and content were mostly positive and also provided input for ways to improve the course. We discovered that the diversity of scientific backgrounds among our students enhanced their ability to learn how to communicate their science to others outside their disciplines. We are leveraging the success of our initial course offering to reach other student and faculty groups at Rutgers.

References & Citations

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2. Leshner AI 2007 Outreach training needed Science 315 161 10.1126/science.1138712 17218495 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1138712
3. Brownell SE, Price JV, Steinman L 2013 Science communication to the general public: why we need to teach undergraduate and graduate students this skill as part of their formal scientific training J Undergrad Neurosci Educ 12 e6 e10 24319399 3852879
4. Ausiello D 2007 Science education and communication: AAP Presidential Address J Clin Invest 117 3128 3130 10.1172/JCI33385 17909633 1994634 http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI33385
5. Chan V 2011 Teaching oral communication in undergraduate science: are we doing enough and doing it right? J Learn Des 4 71 79
6. Neeley L, Goldman E, Smith B, Baron N, Sunu S 2015 GradSciComm report and recommendations: mapping the pathways to integrate science communication training into STEM graduate education COMPASS www.informalscience.org/sites/default/files/GradSciComm_Roadmap_Final.compressed.pdf
7. Varner J 2014 Scientific outreach: toward effective public engagement with biological science BioScience 64 4 333 340 10.1093/biosci/biu021 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu021
8. Cooke SJ 2017 Considerations for effective science communication Facets 2 233 248 10.1139/facets-2016-0055 http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/facets-2016-0055
9. Alda A 2017 If I understood you, would I have this look on my face? Random House New York
10. Kaplan-Liss E, Lantz-Gefroh V, O’Connell C, Killebrew D, Ponzio NM, Bass E Helping medical students learn to communicate with empathy and clarity Acad Med in press
11. Bass E 2016 The importance of bringing science and medicine to lay audiences Circulation 133 2334 2337 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.023297 27267539 http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.023297
12. Bloome BS, Englehart M, Furst E, Hill W, Krathwohl D 1956 Taxonomy of educational objectives handbook I: The cognitive domain David McKay Co. Inc. New York
13. Anderson LW, Krathwohl D Airasian PW, Cruikshank KA, Mayer RE, Pintrich PR, Raths J, Wittrock MC 2001 A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: a revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives Allyn & Bacon New York
14. Heath C, Heath D 2007 Made to stick: why some ideas survive and others die Random House New York
15. Downs JS 2014 Prescriptive scientific narratives for communicating usable science Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111 Suppl 4 13627 13633 10.1073/pnas.1317502111 25225369 4183172 http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1317502111
16. Dahlstrom MF 2014 Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111 Suppl 4 13614 13620 10.1073/pnas.1320645111 25225368 4183170 http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1320645111
17. Schreiber L, Paul GD, Shibley LR 2010 The development and test of the public speaking competence rubric Commun Educ 61 205 233 10.1080/03634523.2012.670709 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03634523.2012.670709

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2018-03-30
2019-10-24

Abstract:

Doctoral students in science disciplines spend countless hours learning how to conduct cutting-edge research but very little time learning to communicate the nature and significance of their science to people outside their field. To narrow this disparity, we created an unusual course titled Communicating Science for doctoral science trainees at Rutgers University. Our goal was to help students develop an advanced ability to communicate their research clearly and accurately and to emphasize its value and significance to diverse audiences. Course design included classroom instruction supplemented with improvisation, video recordings, and ample opportunity for students to practice and receive immediate, constructive feedback in a supportive environment. A multidisciplinary faculty with expertise in science, education, communication, and theater arts taught this course. PhD students came from diverse scientific disciplines, ranging from biology and chemistry to civil engineering. Students also completed a capstone project in which they worked with a professional in the academic or private sector to explore a possible career aspiration. Assessment was in the form of feedback on students’ oral and poster presentations, and written abstracts about their research. Student evaluations and comments about course format and content were mostly positive and also provided input for ways to improve the course. We discovered that the diversity of scientific backgrounds among our students enhanced their ability to learn how to communicate their science to others outside their disciplines. We are leveraging the success of our initial course offering to reach other student and faculty groups at Rutgers.

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