1. Benjamin Zwickl
  2. Transfer of math, physics, and communication skills into the entry-level photonics workforce
  3. http://www.rit.edu/power
  4. Rochester Institute of Technology
  1. Anne Leak
  2. Transfer of math, physics, and communication skills into the entry-level photonics workforce
  3. http://www.rit.edu/power
  4. Rochester Institute of Technology
  1. Kelly Norris Martin
  2. Transfer of math, physics, and communication skills into the entry-level photonics workforce
  3. http://www.rit.edu/power
  4. Rochester Institute of Technology
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Anne Leak

    Anne Leak

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 10:43 p.m.

    Hi Everyone! Thank you for taking the time to watch our video. When teaching science, we often struggle with how to prepare students for the real world. What science will students need to know in their everyday lives? In their future careers? Is it even possible to teach authentic science, and authentic science communication, in a classroom context? With these thoughts in mind, we hope that the questions below will help us continue this  discussion with you.

    FOR EVERYONE: Can and should authentic STEM practice be done in the classroom, while still supporting student learning?

    FOR TEACHERS: How can insights from professional STEM workplaces help inform your lesson planning and teaching, especially for interpreting NGSS science and engineering practices?

    FOR RESEARCHERS: In what ways could research on STEM practices in workplace contexts answer important questions in your research area?

  • Icon for: Louis Gross

    Louis Gross

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:02 a.m.

    Benjamin, Anne and colleagues,

    Thanks for a fascinating discussion of the relationship between the technical skills included in STEM classes and the need for learning how to effectively communication results. The math discussion brings up lessons from the math reform movement which posited different modalities for student learning. Originally called the Rule of 3, it became the Rule of 4 and in a recent book I and colleagues called it the Rule of 5: presenting concepts verbally, symbolically, algorithmically (e.g. numerically), graphically, and through real-world data. Given that students have potentially quite different learning styles, including all approaches can lead to benefiting all students. I wonder if you have been considering how such different learning modalities fit into the need for developing communications skills. Encouraging students to be able to communicate in multiple ways may be beneficial. Does this align with your experiences at all?

    Cheers,

              Lou

  • Icon for: Anne Leak

    Anne Leak

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 02:02 p.m.

    Hi Louis,

    I would definitely like to learn more about the Rule of 5 that you described. I think what really stands out in our data on communication and math use in the optics and photonics industry is that presenting concepts verbally, symbolically, algorithmically, graphically, and through real-world data are all important for different goals and contexts. For instance, an employee may need to use math symbolically or algorithmically when testing a new process or design. Then, they may need to present math to clients graphically and verbally in order to communicate effectively for planning purposes. Communication in multiple ways may also be beneficial as you suggest, and your discussion poses some interesting considerations for communicating mathematics in different situations.

  • Icon for: Louis Gross

    Louis Gross

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 01:41 p.m.

    Anne, The Rule of 3 (then 4 then 5) derived from the Calculus reform movement of the 1970's and 1980's. We tried to build our textbook (see mathematicsforthelifesciences.com) to incorporate the rule of 5 throughout, as the extension to include data sets of relevance to life science students was our idea. However, aside from statistics courses, it is our experience that many math instructors don't want to really involve actual data. 

  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 15, 2018 | 10:55 a.m.

    Thank you for this great video! Your emphasis on the "why" of communication really resonated with me, and is something I want to be sure to emphasize in my own courses.

     

    As part of our NSF-funded S-STEM program, I teach a research and writing enhanced introductory statistics course. One of the first assignments I have for the students is reading Edward Tufte's Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions. This short (and cheap!) booklet presents two contrasting case studies where evidence was presented effectively (Jon Snow and the Cholera Epidemic in London) and not effectively (the decision to launch the space shuttle Challenger). Every time I use this assignment, I am amazed by student reactions. They always seem to come away with an appreciation for the importance of good scientific communication. Do you have any good resources that you would recommend? 

     

    For your discussion questions, authentic STEM practice should be done in the classroom! The "can" gets a little harder. The students in my course were all in the second semester of their first year and had STEM majors that spanned all of those offered at our institution. That meant it was challenging for us to do anything that required deep subject matter knowledge (i.e., something truly "authentic"). My major course assignments included a literature review on a topic where scientists might have a different opinion than the public and designing an empirical study using online games, writing about it, and giving a poster presentation. One semester I had the students create an animated PSA on their literature review topic. I think more authentic practice can be more easily implemented in upper level courses, but doing that well would require devoting time to scientific communication.

  • Icon for: Kelly Norris Martin

    Kelly Norris Martin

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 06:10 a.m.

    Hi Jessica, Tufte's Visual and Statistical Thinking is a great text (and the Challenger example) is great for students. Other visual communication texts that I think are really helpful for scientists include:

    Frankel, F. & DePace, A. H. (2012). Visual strategies: A practical guide to graphics for scientists and engineers. Yale University Press.

    and this e-book from Nature Methods: https://www.scientificamerican.com/products/nat...

    Are you looking for other kinds of scientific communication help as well? Presentations? Small group? Interpersonal?

    I'll let Anne and Ben weigh-in with some more specific ideas for how to incorporate contexts, but in many of the interviews we've done with students they've mentioned that even framing a lot of the concepts in the class in a way that helps them understand the context it could be used can be helpful. In one interview a student complained about analogies that although helped them understand the concept (I think it had to do with buying fruit at a store), he wished the faculty member would use a workplace example. So, maybe it doesn't always have to be a large assignment.

  • Icon for: Anne Leak

    Anne Leak

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 02:28 p.m.

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for your insights on teaching authentic STEM communication practices. I think you hit on one of the key reasons for why it is so challenging to incorporate authentic practice in the classroom. The diversity of students' experience and how many ways there are to do authentic science makes it hard to delve deep into one area. We do have lots of evidence that the deep dive is important as well as helping students develop an ability to apply what they learned in that deep dive to other situations.

    To add to Kelly's suggestions, I would recommend helping your students learn STEM communication by trying to make the reason why they are communicating as authentic as possible (or a mock assignment that reflects authentic goals for scientific communication). For example, some workplace contexts that you could add to your literature review assignment would be that your students are designing a product for a specific population, only the clients disagreed about the science behind it so they need to design a presentation in order to elicit their clients ideas and start a conversation to better meet their needs. Or, you could have the students reflect on their own context for their PSA by asking them to articulate the audience and reason behind their announcement with the idea that these decisions could change the way they message what they learned from their literature review.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jessica Chapman
  • Icon for: Rebecca Teasdale

    Rebecca Teasdale

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 12:21 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing this fascinating project! I am very interested in questions you are asking around the ways in which employees learn on the job and the ways in which math and other technical subjects are intertwined with social contexts. This might be beyond the scope of your work, but I'm curious about any insight you may be gaining on how to support employee's STEM learning and practices as they unfold in the workplace. Thank you! 

  • Icon for: Kelly Norris Martin

    Kelly Norris Martin

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 06:15 a.m.

    HI Rebecca,

    I know Ben and Anne will have more to say, but one of the best ways we are finding to support employee's STEM learning is with relationships with 2 and 4 year universities. This can result in programs or workshops developed specifically for employees or the employees themselves teaching or working with students and in doing so they end up learning even more. We are hoping to invite employees from members from STEM companies to provide feedback to speakers at a graduate speaking lab and there are probably other types of more STEM content events where the same could happen, but the key is beginning those relationships if possible.

    Another thing is if the employer can see how additional training provided by them will either help employees stay at their company or be better prepared for their position (communication strategies are useful there for persuading).

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Rebecca Teasdale
  • Icon for: Courtney Arthur

    Courtney Arthur

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 01:32 p.m.

    Such an interesting idea! I am curious as to whether there are specific types of skills/traits you often see lacking when students are transferring from the school classroom into the workplace? 

  • Icon for: Kelly Norris Martin

    Kelly Norris Martin

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 06:19 a.m.

    HI Courtney,

    It seems to depend on the particular company's needs the types of skills we hear about but those have often included problem solving and more abstract thinking (giving students a problem without a known answer where they are not given a lot of guidance or step-by-step instruction along the way), face-to-face/phone/email communication and etiquette or organizational communication/cultural understanding and working with their hands (just being familiar with using tools to manipulate machines, etc.).

  • Icon for: Dave Barnes

    Dave Barnes

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:44 p.m.

    Benjamin, Anne, and Kelly,

    I'm intrigued by this work.  It puts front and center the need for more learning and collaboration between industry and education to improve how we learn, work and develop together.  This type of analysis, I think, has potential for engaging students in learning experiences which truly develop them for future work and don't distill out the interpersonal and social interactions, but acknowledge that we don't learn and work in isolation.

    In your work what mathematical concepts and mathematical practices do you see as foundational for students?

    Dave

     

  • May 18, 2018 | 02:04 p.m.

    Nice project, thanks for sharing!  I would imagine that seeing how workplaces require communication with different types of stakeholders would also help students recognize and value the transferable skills developed in their non-STEM courses too. Do you find this to be the case?

  • Icon for: Anne Leak

    Anne Leak

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 02:15 p.m.

    Hi Sandra,

    We definitely find that to be the case for the employees we talk to. Though they have specific technical skills related to their job, most mention a particular course (e.g., philosophy, English, communication), internship, or work experience (e.g., working at a restaurant) that helped them with their workplace STEM communication. The challenge for students is seeing the connections between what they are learning in their STEM and non-STEM courses. Since communication is not often an expectation in the STEM courses, they may not see the relevance or transferability of such skills until they need them on the job. Also, because communication situations in the workplace are dependent on the audience and purpose for the communication, STEM students may need experiences within STEM majors to learn specific communication contexts too.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.