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CERLIS 2011: Students doing popular science: Visual communication in an emerging genre


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Presentation given at CERLIS 2011, Genre variation in English academic communication: Emerging trends and disciplinary insights, 23-25 June, 2011, Bergamo, Italy.

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CERLIS 2011: Students doing popular science: Visual communication in an emerging genre

  1. 1. Students doing popular science: Visual communication in a hybrid academic genre<br />ChristophHafner, City University of Hong Kong<br /><br />CERLIS conference, University of Bergamo, June 2011<br />
  2. 2. Background, methods<br />
  3. 3. Context for this study<br />City University of HK, English for Science and Technology course for students of:<br />Applied Biology<br />Applied Chemistry<br />Environmental Science and Management<br />Mathematics<br />
  4. 4. English for Science Project<br />Students report the aims, procedure and outcomes of a simple quasi-scientific study<br />In the form of a multimedia scientific documentary (groups)<br />In the form of a written lab report (individuals)<br />
  5. 5. Topics<br />Blind as a bat<br />To determine whether the size of the blindspot is different for men than it is for women.<br />Taste me if you can<br />To determine what (if any) effect the sense of smell has on the sense of taste<br />
  6. 6. The genre: Scientific documentary<br />Hybrid genre which mixes:<br />Popular genres (e.g. news report, documentary)<br />Scientific genres (e.g. research article, report)<br />An example from the BBC<br />Opening<br />Introduction<br />Methods<br />Results<br />Discussion<br />Closing<br /><br />
  7. 7. Data sources<br /><ul><li>Student scientific documentaries
  8. 8. Analysis draws on Baldry and Thibault, 2006:
  9. 9. Move, Shot, visual frame
  10. 10. Speech
  11. 11. Soundtrack
  12. 12. Setting/participants
  13. 13. Action/gaze gesture
  14. 14. Camera position/perspective
  15. 15. Student focus group interviews
  16. 16. Student comments to course blog</li></li></ul><li>Focus questions<br />What multimodal rhetorical strategies do students draw on when they create a multimedia scientific documentary?<br />How can this activity benefit their development of academic literacies in the science domain?<br />
  17. 17. Student perspectives on the task<br />
  18. 18. The challenge of attention<br />The first impression of audience is the critical point to determine the success of a good documentary since if the audience’s attention cannot be attracted at the beginning, they will have no interest to continue to watch the video even the information is rich and constructive. I agree with t01_john. He said that visual stimulation would be the easiest way to make them remember the video. [Student blog post, October 7th, 2009 at 11:22 pm]<br />
  19. 19. The challenge of multimodality<br />I think the most challenging thing is how to give an attractive and interesting present[ation] because we use lots of method involved in our video. For example, use pictures, use a narrator, stand in front of the camera for speaking and use music or many, many elements we involved in order to give a whole product to make it more interesting. [Student focus group interview] <br />
  20. 20. Thinking about multimodality<br />Moving images and animation<br />Charts and tables for scientific data<br />Subtitles<br />Different camera angles and lighting,<br />Background music<br />Sound effects<br />Interesting locations<br />Interesting participants<br />Facial expression<br />
  21. 21. 3 Cases and rhetorical devices<br />Investigation of a startling fact<br />Did you realize there is a blind spot in your eye?<br />Investigation of a social issue<br />Why does the cafeteria food taste so bad? Is it only the taste, or is it the smell as well?<br />Investigation of a personal issue<br />Why can’t I taste this orange juice? Is there something wrong with me?<br />
  22. 22. Case #1Investigation of a startling fact<br />
  23. 23. Student identity<br />Student as ‘scientist’<br />Narrator role is backgrounded, increased social distance between the producers and their audience<br />
  24. 24. Opening: Case 1, shot 3<br />
  25. 25.
  26. 26. Background and theory: Case 1, shot 10<br />
  27. 27.
  28. 28. Discussion: Case 1, shots 51-52<br />
  29. 29.
  30. 30. Case #2Investigation of a social issue<br />
  31. 31. Student identity<br />Student as ‘reporter’<br />Narrator role is more prominent, with an on-screen narrator (the reporter), who appears at various points throughout the documentary<br />Watch for intertextual references and use of sound<br />
  32. 32. Opening: Case 2, shots 1-8<br />
  33. 33.
  34. 34. Case #3Investigation of a personal issue<br />
  35. 35. Student identity<br />Student as ‘traveller’on a ‘journey of experiment’<br />Narrator role is prominent, the narrator is a part of the action as in a first person documentary<br />Watch for the range of visual information and effective use of sound<br />
  36. 36. Opening: Case 3, shots 55-65<br />
  37. 37.
  38. 38. Scientific documentaries as a bridge to academic writing for science<br />
  39. 39. Recontextualizing the documentary<br />A process that is transferrable<br />Issues of audience, purpose, rhetorical structure<br />From non-specialist to specialist audience<br />Which aspects of the presentation are transferrable to the new context? Which are not?<br />Use of visuals? Register? Strategies for getting attention?<br />
  40. 40. Thank you! Questions?<br />Further information about this project can be obtained from the project website:<br />