Getting the word out                             Effective Communication of the                               Results of O...
Audio: David Kestenbaum &                                                                      Marvin Marshak: Neutrinos  ...
My points for todayGood communication is important We can learn from the science     communication field      But more is n...
The earth is warming                                           Americans who believe                                      ...
Student-centered instruction               helps students learn   traditional lecture! interactive engagement!            ...
traditional lecture! interactive engagement!                            0.6                            0.5                ...
a success story                              Wong & McMurray, Framing communication: Communicating the antismokingImage by...
first, an outline of                    communicationmedia & scientists   messenger                                   messa...
Model 1:                       scientific literacy                                                    (1960-1980’s)media & ...
the deficit model                                         science                                        “The deficit model ...
there is a deficit model in PER  “Typically, dissemination involves informing the faculty of the  research-based innovation...
Model 2:                       public understanding                                            of science                 ...
is there an attitude    problem towards PER?                                                                              ...
Model 3:                        science & society                                       (mid-1990’s to present)media & sci...
but why bother?    conceptual change is hard                   what can an article or a talk do?    create awareness expos...
Let’s focus on PER communication     messenger       PER                                          •credible               ...
3    keep it                                                           know your                                       key...
These should seem familiar...                     People have prior knowledge & beliefs                                Sca...
stories are so     message                                                          important                             ...
message                  prior beliefs     Why do faculty try peer instruction?                   • Evidence of effectiven...
“Many scientists believe...”                                    message                         “A threat worse than terro...
but... is data &      message                        information important?                 “Knowledge is Power ”         ...
message                       what role does data have?                                                                bot...
“Data does not appear to be a convincing  factor but is used to justify using the          innovation to others”          ...
So....We can create                                               messages to get faculty                                 ...
what goes wrong?              we need to know & communicate about                the challenges of implementation     imag...
So, it is important to                          communicate well.                             But we don’t just           ...
there is a time for telling            but we need deeper engagement to change ideas  image from http://www.seniorsworldch...
The next generation of PER-                      Communication                       follow-up             PER            ...
we don’t need to speak louder.            we need to speak better.                   1.We should consult the research in  ...
Thank you!            Upcoming:  Learning About Teaching Physics.PERTG-funded podcast on PER for teachers.Check http://blo...
dialogue model in PER “Instead of making them feel...to adopt research innovations because the researchers know best, thes...
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Getting the Word Out: Effective Communication of the Results of our Physics Education Research studies

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This is a 50 minute talk from my plenary speech at Foundations and Frontiers of Physics Education Research (FFPER) at Puget Sound in 2011. I connect the research and best practices of science communication to our work with faculty to help them use and learn about research based instructional strategies.

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Getting the Word Out: Effective Communication of the Results of our Physics Education Research studies

  1. 1. Getting the word out Effective Communication of the Results of Our Work in PER What’s working, what we ought to know, and what we need to do better Stephanie Chasteen University of Colorado @ BoulderIllustration: Tom Tomorrow 1
  2. 2. Audio: David Kestenbaum & Marvin Marshak: Neutrinos 2Here’s a slightly different view of a face. Here is that same image right-side up. I hardly need totell you, we are tuned to understand things that are familiar. Faces are familiar to us right-side-up.We don’t notice that there is something weird about it when it’s in this unfamiliar place. So, it’salways important to use familiar things to help people understand something new. We know that,we’re educators. So I want to play you a piece from the radio that does this really well, withsomething that certainly isn’t familiar to most people. I want you to listen to this, and listenespecially for how he ties it to the familiar and makes us want to keep listening. What does thispiece of radio have to do with science education? This is really scaffolding, just in communication form -- start where people are at. Here is anexcellent example of scaffolding with something familiar to get to something really unfamiliar.Notice the nice use of metaphor and analogy as well.
  3. 3. My points for todayGood communication is important We can learn from the science communication field But more is needed 3
  4. 4. The earth is warming Americans who believe that there is solid evidence of climate change: 57% Those who believe that it’s caused by human activity 36% Denver commuters who don’t drive alone! 31%Data: IPCC, Opinion Research Corporation 4
  5. 5. Student-centered instruction helps students learn traditional lecture! interactive engagement! Physicists who are 0.6 aware of 3 or more RBIS’s 0.5 68% Fraction of Courses fraction of courses ! 0.4 0.3 0.2 Those who use at least one RBIS 0.1 49% 0 0.08 0.14 0.20 0.26 0.32 0.38 0.44 0.50 0.56 0.62 0.68 normalized learning gain! Users of “peer less learning more learning! instruction” who include peerHake, “A 6,000 student study....”, AJP 66, 1998Dancy & Henderson, “Pedagogical Practices and instructional change of instructionfaculty,” AJP 78(10), 2010.Henderson & Dancy, “Impact of PER on the teaching of introductory 27%qualitative physics in the US,” PRST-PER, 5, 020107, 2009. 5We have a similar problem to climate change scientists -- we have data that we think should effectbehavior change, but that doesn’t happen.
  6. 6. traditional lecture! interactive engagement! 0.6 0.5 How can we get our Fraction of Courses fraction of 0.4 message across courses ! 0.3 0.2 0.1 and enable behavior change? 0 0.08 0.14 0.20 0.26 0.32 0.38 0.44 0.50 0.56 0.62 0.68 normalized learning gain! less learning more learning! climate change neutrinos 6Neutrinos:- message and information that we want to convey.- but no action requiredClimate change-we want people to act based on this information. We want to persuade people.- Both issues are both cultural and scientific. So, apt analogy.- But unlike climate science, we don’t have an active skeptic campaign- The ways to communicate well, and how this can lead to action, are all part of the sciencecommunication literature. Why do Americans keep buying SUV’s when they know about climatechange? Why aren’t we taking advantage of this literature? They are struggling with many of thesame things that we are.
  7. 7. a success story Wong & McMurray, Framing communication: Communicating the antismokingImage by Tomasz Sienicki message effectively to all smokers. J. of Community Psychology, 30(4) (2002). 7Successful mass media campaignscientific information --> fewer smokers start, more qitLarge number of people (rather than individual doctors)Progress to be made (24% smoke)Get message out PLUS investigate how smokers respond to informationThose with desire to quit vs those with no intention to quitGain vs loss: “quitting smoking will reduce your risk of lung cancer” or a loss, “not quitting smokingwill increase your risk of lung cancer.”Positive frame --> those thinking about quittingNegative frame --> spur those not thinking about to action.Implications for PER. We should be drawing on lit.And of course behavioral economics. Not that talk. Want to see that talk.
  8. 8. first, an outline of communicationmedia & scientists messenger message information attitudes & beliefs audience public behavior 8Message: We often want to get engagement in terms of information, emotion, and behaviorReceiver = public, policy makersphysics teachers, policy makers, other researchers
  9. 9. Model 1: scientific literacy (1960-1980’s)media & scientists let’s educate that ignorant public message information public Bauer, Allum and Miller, “What can we learn from 25 years of PUS survey research?” Public Understanding of Science, 16, 2007. 9They recognized that there was a real lack of understanding of science among the publicSo we undertook scientific literacy campaigns.
  10. 10. the deficit model science “The deficit model assumes that the public are empty vessels waiting to be filled with useful information upon which they will rationally act.” Nerlich, Koteyko, and Brown, “Theory and language of climate change communication,” Wiley Interdisciplinary reviews, 1, 2010. 10We know model = transmissionist.Usually use when talk about why lecture ineffectiveSci-com = “deficit model”And I argue we do this in PER, butWe know that people make choices for irrational reasons, but we keep trying to convince peoplewith rational data.But (a) people’s heads aren’t empty, so information transfer doesn’t work, and(b) people’s decisions aren’t rational.There are several books about how we decide, based on cognitive psychology and behavioraleconomics. I think we can learn from this literature, but behavioral economics isn’t really what Iwant to talk about today.Rather, the deficit model doesn’t work because (a) people aren’t blank slates, and (b) once theyare informed, that information doesn’t necessarily lead to action. Information on its own isn’tpersuasive. That’s the behavioral economics piece.
  11. 11. there is a deficit model in PER “Typically, dissemination involves informing the faculty of the research-based innovation, convincing them of the need for the innovation, and providing them with new curricular materials. Although this model is intuitive, it is not based on data and has not been shown to be effective”
‐
Dancy
&
Henderson RBIS & pedagogy Literature review (Henderson et al.; N=100) Example ideas of this mode: “Disseminating pedagogy •“faculty typically lack knowledge about & curriculum” student-centered instruction” •“change takes time, we need to be patient” 30% of all articles •“Once faculty are convinced, they’ll share with their colleagues.” ~50% of all SERDancy & Henderson, “Pedagogical Practices and instructional change of faculty,” AJP 78(10), 2010.Henderson, Beach & Finkelstein, “Four Categories of Change Strategies...” Transitions and Transgressions in Learning &Education, accepted. 11We do this in PER. “If I just had 30 minutes of their time, they would understand.”Or, as Dancy says,- Develop and disseminate curriculum- Expect change- Wonder why change didn’t happen- Blame faculty- RepeatHenderson and others did a systematic literature review in the DBER, faculty develoment, and highereducation literature. Ignoring the others, SER is pretty much PER. This was definitely one of thedominant modes of communication in SER. The types of ideas expressed in these articles show thatwe’re still fairly stuck in the dissemination mode in our communications, at least in written form.Not entirely, but wait for that.We need to get out of this dissemination mode.
  12. 12. Model 2: public understanding of science (1985-1990’s)media & scientists the public is insufficiently “in love” with STEM message information attitudes & beliefs public 12They recognized that a lot of the problem wasn’t that the public didn’t know much about science,but that they had a bad attitude. The public is insufficiently “in love” with STEM. So, they wantednot just to educate, but to seduce the public. The more information they have, the more they’llagree with the experts. THe problem is, research shows that this isn’t true -- there isn’t agood correlation between attitudes and knowledge.Plus, this is schizophrenic. a deficient public can’t be trusted.
  13. 13. is there an attitude problem towards PER? 13We feel that there is a negative attitude towards PER and that we have to convince faculty that weare on their side.But the data doesn’t seem to support this. It may be that 20 years ago, faculty felt negativelytowards PER. And maybe the old guard still does. But Henderson, Dancy and Turpen’s recent datashows that -- overall -- faculty are bought-in to PER based methods, and believe that moreinteractivity is important.Do we not trust faculty, like the media and policy makers didn’t trust the public? Do we see facultyas deficient?
  14. 14. Model 3: science & society (mid-1990’s to present)media & scientists we should educate them, and let them participate message the scientists’ & media attitudes are information the problem emotion public behavior 14We have the problem. THe public is being alienated by our prejudices.We have to determine what their interests are, and hear their concerns. We should let themparticipate in policy decisions. There is a movement towards dialogue and discussion, such as withcommunity forums and science cafe’s.For example, GM foods there was a lot of public outcry. So with nanotech they created discussionforums. The jury is still out on whether the dialogue part is helpful.But what we know is helpful is paying attention to our audience and what they need. After all,this is what worked in education, right? We researched student difficulties and gave educationbased on what we know they struggle with.
  15. 15. but why bother? conceptual change is hard what can an article or a talk do? create awareness expose to new ideas plant a seed inspire 15We know how hard conceptual change is. Many instructors know about RBIS methods, but fewuse them, or use them properly.We need to work with departments on institutional structures, create sustained workshops that,over time, help instructors to reflect upon and transform their teaching. So, why bother to thinkabout how we communicate in these articles and talks and other communication modes?Well, I went to what I consider the Carl Sagan of PER. He’s been tremendously successful ingetting some of our key messages across. This talk alone has been given about 400 times, and hesometimes gives is 2 or 3 times a week. So I asked him. Why bother spending all this time andenergy doing what he does, giving talks and lectures?So, the communication can help create awareness. And this works. When Dancy interviewedphysics faculty, she found that many of them try PI because they hear Mazur talk and get excited totry it. They first find out about the method through a talk or a colleague, and then turn to writtenmaterials to learn more. So, this works. And because it’s worked, we need to keep doing it, butdoing it even better.Think of Brian Greene’s Elegant Universe on PBS. DId that create a new generation of stringtheorists? No, that’s what’s called “edutainment”. It inspires and motivates. These people know howto do this well.
  16. 16. Let’s focus on PER communication messenger PER •credible •trustworthy •similar message •who are they? •affects message •needs research physics teachers audience 16OK, so now I hope I’ve convinced you that there are a lot of similarities between sciencecommunication and PER communication.So I’ll talk now for a little bit about what makes effective communication, and how that relates toPER. And how we need to do better.Messenger: This is our first hurdle. We could be seen as biased. This is why we’re so lucky to haveMazur. He’s seen as credible, friendly. He’s a Harvard prof. He started out like most instructors.He’s like a better version of every physics teacher, yet he’s not stuck up, he’s funny. He’s a greatmessenger. We can learn from him to be seen as trusted messengers.Audience:Physicists (open or closed). Media. Policy makers. Climate change has done a lot ofwork surveying the public and finding out perceptions, then tailoring communication. Are theyskeptical of social science? If so, in what way? Create research based brochures or talking points.Research-based communication. Let’s focus on talking to other physicists for now. This is a bigarea that needs research. What do physicists need from our communication? What are their ideasand beliefs? What do they struggle with in implementation? This is a huge area of research that isneeded, and I’ll come back to this. But if we at least know more about our audience, we can providea more targeted message. That is really the two-way part of communication -- finding outabout our audience, just like we find out about our students in order to hone our education.
  17. 17. 3 keep it know your key simple audience points metaphors, make it message analogy, relevant examples build no tell a from jargon story familiar 17I’m going to go over some aspects of effective messages quickly, because you know these thingsalready.
  18. 18. These should seem familiar... People have prior knowledge & beliefs Scaffold understanding Motivation is important to learning Don’t exceed cognitive load Make it relevant / connect to everyday life Respect learners 18But these shouldn’t be too surprising, you should see a lot of parallels with what we do.THis is just education translated into a mostly one-way form.
  19. 19. stories are so message important Audio: Christopher Joyce and William Eberhard, A Spider’s Web Image: Luc Viatour, www.lucnix.be 19Every master communicator knows the power of storytelling. We are very tuned into narrative, this is how we understand the world. Stories make it personal, and make us care, tapping into the emotional side of things. Theyhelp concretize data in experience. And, perhaps more importantly, stories give us a framework ora mental model on which to hang our understanding and memory.Here’s an example of a story from veteran reporter Christopher Joyce of NPR.You’re going to remember this science better,he sets us up to understand what the wasp is doing to the spider, by creating a mystery. Thisis the story of a study.Mazur is expert at this. I asked Mazur why he thinks his talks are so successful.Tell story of his demos. .Joyce + Mazur = inspire curiousity. Setting up a study so we’re curious to hear the results will doa lot to keep our attention during the rest of hte talk.Why do people want to hear his talk in person? A lot of communication research has found that inperson communication is more impactful than media. Dancy, Henderson and Turpen also foundthat social contacts were most important (in person or face to face) for someone to try aninnovation.
  20. 20. message prior beliefs Why do faculty try peer instruction? • Evidence of effectiveness from personal experience • Dissatisfied with traditional lecture • It’s important for students to be actively engaged - Dancy, Henderson & Turpen faculty interviews, analysis in progress 20Faculty are trying things that sound like good ideas because of their prior beliefs about what goodteaching is.We need more information about those prior ideas so that we can fit our messages in withthose beliefs and mental models. . We want to cue productive mental models with ourcommunicationIn fact, a lot of the successful communications in our field are probably successful because they dofit with these previous models.Q: What are physics teachers mental models?
  21. 21. “Many scientists believe...” message “A threat worse than terrorism” “What Would Jesus Drive” framing 21The words we choose and the ideas we highlight help the audience to interpret our information. It also helps to tap into certain types of mental models.And it influences the persuasiveness of the message.Anti-climate = doubt.“threat worse than terrorism” frames it as a violent issue“What would Jesus Drive” is a campaign that frames environmentalism as a religious, stewardshipissueTHe frame that is most effective will depend on your audience.And I just want to remind you of the smoking example I used before. This is a great example offraming an issue -- smoking is framed as a health issue, as a social problem, as dirty. And thiscompletely changed the way that the population viewed smoking. And of course, that positiveor negative frame is also a frame.The way we frame our messages changes the persuasiveness of our message.Q: What are the frames that we have used?
  22. 22. but... is data & message information important? “Knowledge is Power ” 



















‐
Francis
Bacon Corollary:

 Lack
of
Knowledge
is
lack
of
power 22The deficit model doesn’t work so... do we want to include information? To include data? Yes, ofcourse we do. Our message still includes facts and information. We don’t want to be all “spin”, butrather to provide some information so we can have informed conversations with faculty.BUT, data backs up our arguments, is not an argument in itself.
  23. 23. message what role does data have? bottom linescientist model background key details (data) supporting details (data) back- ground results & conclusions journalist model 23But the question is ... what role data plays. Where we bring it in. As scientists, we generally givethe background to our field, give some supporting details about our study, and build up to thegrand finale -- the results.Journalists follow the opposite structure. They start with the bottom line, the so what. Then they’llprovide some important supporting details.Now, I’m not saying that this is how we should give our colloquia. But I think it’s something tokeep in mind
  24. 24. “Data does not appear to be a convincing factor but is used to justify using the innovation to others” - Dancy, Henderson & Turpen, in progress 24
  25. 25. So....We can create messages to get faculty excited about using PER techniques BUT Almost half of faculty use an RBIS for only semester 25Mazur is incredibly effective at getting our message out because he’s a good communicator anduses these principles of good communication.And data indicates that this type of communication has been relatively successful in getting theword out.People get fired up when they hear Mazur talk, and they want to go out and try his ideas. We can dothis locally.BUT . Faculty report knowing about RBIS’s but most don’t use them, or stop using them. Almosthalf stop using an RBIS after one semester. 30% of users stop using peer instruction. 50% stopusing cooperative group problem solving. Faculty get fired up when they hear Mazur talk, but then they go out and try to implement itand it all goes to hell. Getting a faculty to use your technique isn’t the end of the story.
  26. 26. what goes wrong? we need to know & communicate about the challenges of implementation image from http://www.pandemiclabs.com/blog/viral-marketing/does-your-advertising-agency-get-it/ 26Faculty decide to use something, it doesn’t work, and they blame themselves or blame themethod.But run into difficulties and challengesWe need more information about how to implement something in a local contextWe need to study secondary implementations to know what faculty come up againstWe need more informaation about what challenges people face in implementationAnd then we need to communicate about those challenges as part of our messageMaybe we’re afraid that they won’t try the technique if we tell them there might be challenges. Butgetting someone to try something doesn’t seem to be the big hurdle. It’s getting them to keepusing it.
  27. 27. So, it is important to communicate well. But we don’t just need to repeat our message louder 1. Our message is incomplete 2. And we need more than just a message 27Why aren’t things working? We typically think, well, we need a better website, or more workshops.But that’s assuming that our message hasn’t gotten across. To some degree, it has. Faculty arebought into the idea of interactive engagement. They know about hte strategy. They haveknowledge and beliefs about these strategies. What’s missing?one is that our message is incomplete. As I said, we need to include the challenges and commondifficulties as part of our message.
  28. 28. there is a time for telling but we need deeper engagement to change ideas image from http://www.seniorsworldchronicle.com/2009/08/usa-professors-john-baldwin-68-and.html 28Just like there is a time for lecturing to students, there is a time for communicating via messages,for conveying information, as we have been doing.But just like with students, if we want to change ideas, we need some room for deeperengagement.
  29. 29. The next generation of PER- Communication follow-up PER communities message me policy physicists 29Just like science communication finally realized that they needed to engage the public moredeeply in science through science cafe’s, etc, so do we need to find our next generation ofcommunication.Provide ongoing support structuresCreate follow-up opportunities. One-shot PD doesn’t work -- effective PD includes opportunitiesto continue to engage, to share problems and solutions, and get assistance in implementation.Build communities that help new users -- professional learning communities and communities ofpractice (CAE, modeling, teacher institute)And of course the other contextual factor is policy. Departmental support and encouragement is abig factor in people trying something new, by Dancy data.Plus, instructors don’t know when what they are doing is working or not. We all know theimportance of feedback in changing student behavior. Faculty also need meaningful data, andstudent evaluations aren’t it. Providing meaningful evaluation measures on student learning is akey policy change.
  30. 30. we don’t need to speak louder. we need to speak better. 1.We should consult the research in science communication and behavior economics to find how it relates to PER. 2.Developing effective communication strategies for specific audiences is important in getting the PER messages across. 3.We need to broaden our message to include implementation challenges and go beyond communication to create communities and support structures for PER-reform efforts 301. health campaigns, climate change, and other science communication has information that weneed. Why not consult with experts in those fields to write white papers for our practitioners?2. We need more audience research and more development of effective messages and talkingpoints for our community. What works? What speaks to people? What can we glean from thecommunication literature to more effectively hone our messages and become excellentcommunicators?3. People have gotten the message that PER exists, and that interactive engagement is good, andwe need to now focus our message on implementation. How can others get the gains thatdevelopers have? We need research to inform this message, and we also need to form structures -like modeling or CAE - that give teachers a safe “home” where they can work on their practice.We don’t just need to speak louder. We need to speak better.PER is a leader in science education research. If we begin to do research-basedcommunication to fully communicate our message, do it well, and to use that communicationto draw people into a broader support structure, we can lead the SER community in thisimportant work.
  31. 31. Thank you! Upcoming: Learning About Teaching Physics.PERTG-funded podcast on PER for teachers.Check http://blog.sciencegeekgirl.com. I’m interviewing at FFPERPS! Come talk to me. Upcoming podcasts on lecture demos, PI, is lecture evil? and how tests help you learn Many thanks to Melissa Dancy for useful discussions, to both Dancy & Henderson for their valuable work, and to the PER group at CU- Boulder, and my many mentors in science communication including those at the Exploratorium & NPR (particularly Paul Doherty, David Kestenbaum & Richard Harris). 31
  32. 32. dialogue model in PER “Instead of making them feel...to adopt research innovations because the researchers know best, these instructors would like the [PER] community to literature survey recognize that they have valuable experiences and expertise and work with them to improve teaching and learning ” teaching is context-dependent and sample ideas adaptation is necessary you are here time & effort are required to change instruction we are advisors, and respect the expertise of teachers Dancy & Henderson, “Pedagogical Practices and instructional change of faculty,” AJP 78(10), 2010. Henderson, Beach & Finkelstien, “Four Categories of Change Strategies...” Transitions and Transgressions in Learning & Education, accepted. 32We are moving in this direction in PER and it only took us 20 years instead of 40.

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