Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

A Model for Enabling an Effective Outcome-Oriented Communication between the Scientific and Educational Communities

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

A Model for Enabling an Effective Outcome-Oriented Communication between the Scientific and Educational Communities

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Traditionally, there has been a large gap between the scientific and educational communities in terms of communication, which hinders the transfer of new scientific knowledge to teachers and students and the understanding of each other's needs and capabilities. In this paper, we describe a workshop model we have developed to facilitate communication, enriching and enlightening those immediately involved and can be successfully implemented as part of any outreach activity, whether the scientific/technical or educational community initiates it. The workshop model is composed of preworkshop, workshop, and postworkshop elements that strategically scaffold the participants' experience through extended cross-community breakout and networking time. This model has enabled deeper understanding in each community of the other's needs, and in many cases has resulted in a concrete outcome in the form of an online Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter that can be used effectively in educational contexts beyond the workshop participants. © 2012 National Association of Geoscience Teachers. [DOI: 10.5408/11-234.1]

Key words: Earth science data, data analysis skills, data analysis tools, transdisciplinary communication, interdisciplinary communication, transdisciplinary workshops, interdisciplinary workshops

INTRODUCTION

Traditionally, there has been a large gap between the scientific and educational communities in terms of knowledge transfer and meeting each other's needs. However, scientists are increasingly mandated, as a requirement of their funders, to make their data and knowledge accessible, useful, and have an impact beyond the scientific community. In addition, educators are pressured to enable their students to develop a deeper understanding of scientific topics through inquiry and other active learning approaches. Communication between scientists/technologists and educators/curriculum developers has always been difficult. Scientists generally do not really know what the teachers need to effectively teach their students and have a hard time translating their technical language into terms that teachers and students understand. Educators, on the other hand, generally do not know what scientific data and/or information they need to be effective, and if they do, they don't know how or do not have the time to obtain a data set and put it into a form they can use.

There have been efforts to bridge the gap between the scientific and educational communities with respect to knowledge transfer and effective access to scientific data sets. Many of these involve the participation and contributions of teachers on scientific research teams communicating both the excitement of the effort and the scientific discoveries that are being made to students in the classrooms, and creating educational materials to extend the impact to a broader range of educators and students (Dahlman, 2007; Carradori et al., 2009; St. John et al., 2009; Niemitz et al., 2010).

Other mechanisms that have been implemented to facilitate the transfer of scientific knowledge between the scientific and educational communities are the studentscientist, teacher-scientist, and student-teacher-scientist partnerships. In these efforts, students and/or teachers are integrally involved in the research and not only develop a deeper understanding of the science that is the subject of their research, but an appreciation of the process of conducting that research (Lawless and Rock, 1998; Brooks et al., 2003; Ledley et al., 2003a, 2003b; Rahm et al., 2003).

In addition to the efforts that directly involve teachers and students in scientific research, scientific research organizations that archive scientific data sets and have computer simulation models for use by the scientific community have developed search, data analysis, and visualization tools that can enable educators and students to access and use the their data and tools (Bowden, 2006; Acker and Leptoukh, 2007; Chandler, 2007; Carter et al. …

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