Enacting acts of authentication in a robotics competition: An interpretivist study

Geeta Verma, Anton Puvirajah and Horace Webb

While the science classroom primarily remains a site for knowledge acquisition through teacher directed experiences, other sites exist outside of the classroom that allow for student generation of scientific knowledge. These sites provide opportunities for linguistic and social interactions to play a powerful role in situating students’ science learning experiences. Augmenting students’ formal school science experiences with informal experiences outside of the classroom enables them to intersect their personal knowledge with canonical disciplinary knowledge. This allows for conditions of practice that are more relevant to the students. In this study we introduce the notion of acts of authentication to examine the nature of students’ linguistic and social activities in an informal setting—a regional robotics competition. These acts of authentication are a) participating in talk (including everyday); b) participating in productive disciplinary engagement (by co-constructing and critiquing knowledge); and c) being a member of a community of practice. We used Critical Discourse Analysis to examine students’ and mentor’s dialogic language to gain insights into the nature of their robotics experiences. Our findings indicate that the robotics experience offered rich opportunities for students to engage in acts of authentication. Our study offers conceptual insights into how the culture of the robotics activities both constructs and is constructed by the linguistic and social experiences of the students and their mentors.



Public engagement with scientific evidence in health: A qualitative study among primary-care patients in an urban population

Marilyn M. Schapira, Diana Imbert, Eric Oh, Elena Byhoff, Judy A. Shea

The purpose of this study is to explore the experience and perspective of patients regarding scientific evidence in health and the degree that this information impacts health behavior and medical decision making. A focus group study was conducted. Participants were recruited from an urban primary-care practice. The focus group discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded by two independent investigators. Emergent themes were identified. Participants (n = 30) ranged in age from 30 to 79 years, 60% were female, 77% were black, and 50% had at least some college experience. Three thematic areas informed a wide range in level of interest regarding scientific study design and result information: (1) scientific literacy, (2) medical decision making style, and (3) impact of culture and community on decision making. Our findings indicate that communication strategies that incorporate key elements of scientific study design, methods, and results will most effectively translate findings from comparative effectiveness research to patient-informed decision making regarding evidence-based health interventions.


Natural versus anthropogenic climate change: Swedish farmers’ joint construction of climate perceptions

Therese Asplund

While previous research into understandings of climate change has usually examined general public perceptions, this study offers an audience-specific departure point. This article analyses how Swedish farmers perceive climate change and how they jointly shape their understandings. The agricultural sector is of special interest because it both contributes to and is directly affected by climate change. Through focus group discussions with Swedish farmers, this study finds that (1) farmers relate to and understand climate change through their own experiences, (2) climate change is understood either as a natural process subject to little or no human influence or as anthropogenic and (3) various communication tools contribute to the formation of natural and anthropogenic climate change frames. The article ends by discussing frame resonance and frame clash in public understanding of climate change and by comparing potential similarities and differences in how various segments of the public make sense of climate change.


A Diffusion of Innovations Approach to Understand Stakeholder Perceptions of Renewable Energy Initiatives

Kami J. Silk, Allison Hurley, Kristin Pace, Erin K. Maloney, Maria Lapinski

This study uses diffusion of innovations (DOI) as a framework for formative research to understand different stakeholders’ perceptions of renewable energy initiatives (i.e., wind, solar, and biomass). Focus groups (N =12) were conducted with several different stakeholders in Michigan: farmers (n = 17), rural residents (n = 20), urban residents (n = 30), citizen activists/environmentalists (n = 13), and individuals who live in tourist-based economies (n = 7). Data were analyzed based on DOI constructs. Results suggest that farmers would be considered early adopters, while urban residents would fall in the late majority. Overall, stakeholder groups perceived renewable energy to be relatively advantageous and compatible with their values.