A Science Communication Intervention: Overview and Motivation

I am currently intervening in an undergraduate-level science course. Along with the basic science, students will learn how to communicate their ideas and perspectives effectively. This week, we are discussing the motivation and overview.

Motivation:

You are here to earn a degree, to better yourself and your chances of getting a good job that you enjoy. In that job, you may need the skills and knowledge you gain in your science classes. You will definitely need effective communication skills. When employers hire recent college graduates, they care most about an applicant’s communication skills (Hart Research Associates, 2015). Employers care more about communication skills than they do critical thinking or analytical reasoning.

But, traditional disciplinary training does not prepare students to be good communicators. Effective communication requires training and practice beyond discipline-specific lectures and coursework. Students graduate equipped with scientific knowledge but not the communication skills they need to benefit from that knowledge. Often, students don’t appreciate the magnitude of this shortcoming. Sixty-five percent of recent college graduates think they are well-prepared in written communication; only twenty-seven percent of employers agree (Hart Research Associates, 2015).

So, this intervention was made to address the problem. Students will learn valuable written-communication skills and practice these skills in their weekly homework assignments. Very little time is needed to incorporate this syllabus into an established science curriculum, and instructors do not need to be communication experts. All you need is this intervention, motivation, and a little practice.

 

Overview:

Each week, we will discuss and practice a new writing skill. In-class discussions will be short, about ten minutes. You will learn more about each skill by reading a short lesson on your own. Then, you will practice these skills by incorporating them in your weekly homework assignments.

These skills will build off each other every week. They will start very basic. We will begin with how to form a well-written sentence. We will then practice how to combine these well-written sentences into well-structure paragraphs that have a clear purpose and overarching narrative. Next, we will craft these paragraphs so that the words and phrases effectively engage our reader.

By the end of this intervention, you will have the toolbox and practice you need to write in a clear, concise, and engaging way. When you craft your writing in this way, you and your reader get what each of you need.

 

Assignment:

Over the next week, you will read many things. You will read scientific things like book chapters and syllabi. You will read colloquial things like text messages and advertisements. Over the next week, I want you to think about what you read.

What things did you enjoy reading? Why? Were they easy to understand? Did they engage you? What did they make you feel?

What things did you struggle to read? Why? Were they confusing? Did they feel like they were written for you? What did they make you feel?

You do not need to write anything down. You only need to think and reflect.

 

Resources:

 

Date

Topic

Week 1 9/26 Overview and Motivation
Week 2 10/3 Sentence Structure
Week 3 10/10 Purpose and Paragraph Structure
Week 4 10/17 Word Choice
Week 5 10/24 Jargon
Week 6 10/31 Demonstration
Week 7 11/7 Audience and Framing
Week 8 11/14 Review

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