[ASC-list] CLIPS - studies to undergird principles of comm'n - Re: ASC-list Digest, Vol 136, Issue 1

Will Rifkin willrifkinphd at gmail.com
Fri Mar 4 23:43:07 UTC 2016


Scholarly justification to attend to audience, purpose, modes, and genres in science communication …

1.  First question - 

Are you seeking to impress students or to inform them?  I will suggest a bit of both - abstract studies that show students that the area has been addressed and introductions to key concepts, things that they might read.  

2.  Rodgers, Diffusion of Innovations - 

A classic that I have drawn on that seems to go over well with students is Everett Rodgers's Diffusion of Innovations.  It is a good introduction to looking at communication in a systematic way.  Diffusion of Innovations is a meta analysis of 7,000 studies of how people respond to discoveries, new ideas, new technology, and new practices.  

Those innovations range from new classroom teaching practices to adoption of hybrid seed corn or personal computers by farmers.  The book has been published in several editions over a 20-30 year period.  It uses terms that students will come across in the media, such as 'early adopter'.  It provides good frameworks for enabling students to analyse their audience and their message and to consider their medium.  

Rodgers was an agricultural engineer and later became recognised as one of the founders of the academic study of mass communication.  He is sometimes seen as a controversial character, having been accused of working for the US Central Intelligence Agency and for pushing conservative Western agendas in economic development.  On a personal note, he taught me to avoid answering the phone when one is in a hurry to get to class.    

A synopsis of the book in a digestible form is available online in the short article, 'Diffusion Game', by Alan AtKisson.  

Classroom activities to illustrate aspects of Rodgers's work are described in a book chapter by Boas and Rifkin in The International Simulation and Gaming Yearbook (2001).  

3.  Rifkin, Communication between Technical and Nontechnical People: The Negotiation of Expert Status - 

A conceptual overview and extended case study of the elements important to communicating about science with non-scientific audiences are covered in my PhD thesis, Stanford University, 1990.  The essence of some of those findings are in the PPT slides that I gave to your colleague, Louise Kuchel, for her class and in some of my articles.  

My work cites, for example, Craig Waddell's study of the Cambridge Experimentation Review Board, highlighting how science-related arguments given in public draw on elements of classical rhetoric - logic, character, and emotion.  There are also classics in the study of language and discourse, such as the philosopher Austin's - How to do Things with Words, and the sociolinguist, Basil Bernstein's work on 'elaborated' and 'restricted' codes.  Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action has also been important for some of us. Colson's 'Tranquility for the Decision-maker' is a little known gem, as well (I have a PDF of this 'oldie but goodie').  

4.  Sandman, Risk = Hazard + Outrage - 

Peter Sandman's work is often a very accessible eye opener for students in science and engineering.  It offers concepts derived from experience, observation, and social psychology more than from specific data.  Paul Slovic's work on risk perception is related, more based on data, and often compelling, too.  

5.  Sci Comm teachers in Oz - 

Doubtless, you have checked with those of us who have taught such material to undergraduates over the past 10-20 years.  That would include Ros Gleadow of Monash University, a plant biologist who coordinates the required 2nd year subject for science majors on science communication, and Nancy Longnecker, who developed such a subject for UWA (though she is now at the U of Otago).  I also have a range of reading packets with selections on related topics.  

Hope that helps.  It will be great to see this material available online.  


Assoc Prof Will Rifkin | Chair in Social Performance 
Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining | Centre for Coal Seam Gas 

Sustainable Minerals Institute | The University of Queensland  |  Brisbane, QLD, 4072 AUSTRALIA
M: +61 (0) 401 701 217 | E: w.rifkin at uq.edu.au
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On 02/03/2016, at 6:00 AM, asc-list-request at lists.asc.asn.au wrote:

> From: Susan Rowland <s.rowland1 at uq.edu.au>
> Subject: [ASC-list] Listserv posting request
> Date: 1 March 2016 7:50:38 AM AEST
> To: "asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au" <asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au>
> Dear Science Communicators, 
> We are currently building an online resource called CLIPS (Communication Learning in Practice for Scientists) at UQ. It is designed to help undergraduate science students communicate science in multiple ways to diverse audiences. So far we have built modules on answering short-answer questions, presenting mathematical arguments and calculations, and presenting data using posters. We are building other modules as well (e.g., “you be the marker”, “presenting data using graphics”)
> We would like to build an introductory module that gives students an overarching framework for thinking about communication for multiple purposes to diverse audiences. Fundamental to this is the idea of getting students to think about audience, purpose, and modes and genres of delivery. 
> Does anyone know if there is a published, scholarly framework for these ideas? So far we have found plenty of descriptions of tacit practices, statements on websites, and books that encourage people to think about audience, purpose, and genre. 
> We have not seen a published scholarly justification for why these things are core to communication in science and why they are more important than other considerations.
> Does anyone have suggestions for papers or studies we should read and refer to? Have we missed any core ideas in science communication?
> Thank you!
> Susan (s.rowland1 at uq.edu.au) on behalf of the CLIPS team Louise Kuchel, Kay Colthorpe, Joan Leach, and James Hardy
> Associate Professor Susan Rowland, PhD, GCHEd.
> Deputy Director Institute for Teaching and Learning (ITaLI) 
> and
> Teaching and Learning Research Focused Academic
> School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
> The University of Queensland

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