Communicating STEM - Advancing STEM Learning through Media by Developing and Fostering Expertise in Media Making

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 to Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Resource Type:
Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: 
Media and Technology, Broadcast Media, Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Professional Development and Workshops, Conferences
Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators | Learning Researchers
Education and learning science | General STEM
Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival

Research tells us that media -- be it on television or film or in the form of radio podcasts -- are the most widely utilized and trusted sources for public science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. Media narratives can shape opinions and knowledge about STEM as well as either reduce or enhance cultural biases and perceptions of STEM. However, little is known about the process by which STEM media professionals develop and assess mastery of "STEM Media," or to what extent evidence-based communication strategies and data-supported effective practices are considered and used by creators of STEM media. This conference proposal will bring together STEM professionals and media creators to determine how STEM media makers develop and assess expertise in STEM media making and articulate best practices. The goal is to promote cross-industry collaboration between media producers, STEM professionals and communication researchers in crafting evidence-based media for the public. The project will also create a 2-year STEM Media Fellows program as well as expand the Science of Communication Strand at two Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festivals (JHWFF) and at the Science Media Awards and Summit in the Hub (SMASH) conference in 2018. The work will be led by Jackson Hole WILD, a nonprofit professional organization, in partnership with Colorado Mesa University.

The project will employ three strategies to advance effective STEM media production and product effectiveness. First, an initiative to provide professional development in Communication Science will be part of the 2017 and 2018 Jackson Hole WILD conferences to increase the attending STEM media professionals' understanding of evidence-based practices. The content will be presented through structured sessions at the conferences with recordings of the sessions made available online as well as through partner organizations. Second, the STEM Media Fellows program will recruit emerging STEM professionals who are interested in media making. The goals of the STEM Media Fellows program are to prepare these diverse STEM professionals with knowledge and skills for media development, and form collaborations among the STEM professionals and media creators. Third, in collaboration with Colorado Mesa University, the project will conduct a Delphi study to determine how mastery of STEM media making is acquired and assessed. The Delphi study will involve gathering perceptions and experiences from the world's leading STEM communicators and media makers regarding how they learned to be professionals and how they would determine the level of expertise of other STEM media makers. The results of the Delphi study will synthesize models and identify best practices that could be used to inform the STEM media industry efforts to align media production with evidence-based practices. These results will be disseminated through appropriate peer-reviewed journals, industry associations, and other outlets of research on informal science education. This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.

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Team Members

Ru MahoneyRu MahoneyPrincipal Investigator
Louis NadelsonLouis NadelsonCo-Principal Investigator
Lisa SamfordLisa SamfordCo-Principal Investigator

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