Development of a cognition-priming model describing learning in a STEM classroom

Richard Lamb, Tariq Akmal and Kaylan Petrie

Successful STEM learning depends on the interaction of affect, cognition, and application of ideas. Simply put students who are unwilling to persist in STEM based endeavors do not suddenly develop into scientists, mathematicians, engineers or computer scientists, nor do they seek out STEM related courses or STEM based careers. The purpose of this study is to investigate content, cognitive, and affective outcomes related to STEM integrated curriculum within the K-5 arena. Educational and psychological literature tends to focus one aspect of the other when examining the role of affect and cognition on student outcomes. Current trends in educational measurement and psychometrics have begun to address the artificial disconnect that exists between affect, cognition, and content outcomes within the science education literature. The methods used to develop the results within this study are a mixture of quantitative methods to develop a model of learning occurring in a STEM school. Using ANOVA, structural equation modeling, and model analysis, an understanding of the problems presented becomes clear. Analysis of model fit statistics suggests adequate model fit (χ2(21) = 30.91, p = 0.075, CFI = 0.94, TLI = 0.93, RMSEA = 0.04, SRMR = 0.05). The standardized structural coefficients for the path from group to each of the constructs is statistically significant (p < 0.05) thus indicating that the two groups differ on the constructs of self-efficacy, science interest, spatial visualization, and mental rotation. An estimate of effect size of the mean group difference across the statistically significant constructs reveals self-efficacy (d = 1.27, large), science interest (d = 1.97, large), spatial visualization (d = 1.30, large), and mental rotation (d = 1.42, large). There is considerable evidence that the inclusion, STEM integrated learning at the earlier elementary level becomes critically important for the students as they progress in school.

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Identifying what matters: Science education, science communication, and democracy

Bruce V. Lewenstein

Many people believe that both public policy and personal action would improve with better access to “reliable knowledge about the natural world” (that thing that we often call science). Many of those people participate in science education and science communication. And yet, both as areas of practice and as objects of academic inquiry, science education and science communication have until recently remained remarkably distinct. Why, and what resources do the articles in this special issue of JRST give us for bringing together both the fields of practice and the fields of inquiry?

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Dynamic framing in the communication of scientific research: Texts and interactions

Pryce R. Davis, and Rosemary S. Russ

The fields of science education and science communication share the overarching goal of helping non-experts and non-members of the professional science community develop knowledge of the content and processes of scientific research. However, the specific audiences, methods, and aims employed in the two fields have evolved quite differently and as a result, the two fields rarely share findings and theory. Despite this lack of crosstalk, one theoretical construct—framing—has shown substantial analytic power for researchers in both fields. Specifically, both fields have productively made use of the fact that when people approach situations or texts in the world, they do so with a sense of “what is going on here” that guides their actions and sense-making in that situation. In this article, we examine the dynamics of how interactions between scientists, reporters, members of the general public, and various texts give rise to in-the-moment frames that shape each actors interpretation of scientific research. In doing so we couple science communication literature’s focus on framings within and across texts with science education’s focus on dynamic framing in interactions. We present a case study that follows a single piece of scientific research from scientist to reporter to the general public. Through semi-structured clinical interviews, video-based observation, and qualitative content analysis, we demonstrate that changes in science knowledge as it moves along the pathways of science communication are the aggregate result of dynamic moment-to-moment framings dispersed over people and interactions. The complexity and nuance of the story presented here have implications for how each field—science communication and science education—conceptualizes the process by which the public comes to knowledge of science.

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Scientists’ views about communication training

John C. Besley, Anthony Dudo and Martin Storksdieck

This study assesses how scientists think about science communication training based on the argument that such training represents an important tool in improving the quality of interactions between scientists and the public. It specifically focuses on training related to five goals, including views about training to make science messages understandable, as well as attitude-focused training meant to build trust and credibility, to demonstrate that one listens to the public, to demonstrate that one cares about the public’s views, and to frame messages to resonate with audiences’ pre-existing values. The theory of planned behavior and procedural justice theory were used to identify potential predictors of views about training toward these goals. Results show that the scientists rate message comprehension and credibility most favorably and give their lowest rating to training related to framing. Regression analyses reveal that believing that public engagement can make a difference (external efficacy) and belief in the ethicality of specific goals were the best predictors of whether scientists saw value in goal-oriented training. The results suggest that communication trainers might benefit from emphasizing the effectiveness and ethicality of engagement activities if they want to attract scientists to communication training, and that more work may need to be done by professional organizations to help scientists consider the value of thinking about communication goals beyond the traditional focus on message comprehension.

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