Training Future Scientists The Role of Analogies in Science Communication
Marlit Hayslett – University of Virginia. United States
The guiding principles of communicating science are well-known: know your audience, simplify your writing, avoid jargon, etc. As an instructor of science communication at the University of Virginia, I have learned that while we know what we should do (e.g. reduce jargon), we are lacking teaching methods for actually doing it. We tell our students over and over that they should “know their audience”, but unless we provide them with specific techniques or models, they are unlikely to be successful. What do I mean? For example, business schools often rely on the case study method to help students learn business strategies. Engineering programs use problem-based learning to teach students how to analyze the situation before rushing to a solution. These pedagogical frameworks do not exist for research communication.
To address this challenge, I have been building a portfolio of lesson plans for the accepted principles of science/research communication. In this proposed demonstration, I will lead a session on how to craft an analogy to explain a complex concept. We intuitively know that comparison is a helpful tool for explanation, but how do we actually do it in a systematic, thoughtful way? In my teaching, I have developed a “recipe” for crafting an analogy. This session will include 1) the lesson (40 min) 2) Q&A about the lesson (15 min); and 3) an open discussion about how to build pedagogical resources for science communication (20 min). One possible long-term goal from the session would be to create a collaborative team to work on a textbook and/or website for teaching science/research communication.
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