Discipline: Science and Mathematics Education
Chazman Childers - Florida International University
Co-Author(s): Melissa McCartney, Florida International University, Miami FL
Formal training in communicating science to a general audience is not traditionally included in graduate and postdoctoral level training programs. However, the ability to effectively communicate science is a skill that is increasingly recognized as a responsibility of professional scientists. We describe a science communication professional development opportunity in which graduate-level scientists and above annotate primary scientific literature, effectively translating complex research into an accessible educational tool for undergraduate students. We examined two different types of annotator training, each with their own populations and evaluation methods, and surveyed participants on why they participated, the confidence they have in their self-reported science communication skills, and how they plan to leverage this experience to advance their science careers. All survey data was collected electronically using Qualtrics software. Likert-scale data was analyzed using the R software package and following best practices for analyzing and interpreting data from Likert-type scales. Additionally, to confirm that annotators were successful in their goal of making the original research article text easier to read, we performed a readability analysis on written annotations and compared that to the original text of the published paper. Readability scores were calculated using an aggregate of the most commonly used readability measures and analyzed using the R software package. The data suggests that the annotator training course facilitated an increase in graduate students’ and postdocs’ self-reported confidence in their ability to communicate written science to non-experts. The annotators were also successful in translating complex primary literature to a more manageable format for first-year undergraduate students, based on the readability data. Results from all our annotators have allowed us to improve and refine our training to ensure that we are providing useful science communication experience. We have identified sections of annotator training where we can further investigate and measure learning gains that are taking place. Based on the readability scores of written annotations, we believe our training is successful in helping annotators target their writing (science communication) to the appropriate grade level. Furthermore, the readability data confirms that the annotated papers are at an appropriate level for the targeted audience. Based on the readability scores of written annotations, we believe our training is successful in helping annotators target their writing (science communication) to the appropriate grade level.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF
Faculty Advisor: Melissa McCartney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I analyzed all of the readability scores and analyzed the data.