A key challenge in improving scientists' capacity to address Broader Impacts criteria is helping them communicate their research clearly and logically to others. Given the misconceptions about climate change - including a general lack of understanding of the oceans' important role - the need for involving scientists in clarifying connections within the ocean-climate system has neve been more vital.
The FGSC workshops bring scientists and graduate students together in meaningful, peer-based collaborative contexts.
Scientists and graduate students are provided with practical pedagogical tools that can help them improve their communication of important ocean science content to non-scientist audiences.
The workshops provide a forum where faculty and graduate students can test and improve their communication skills of important ocean science content to non-scientist audiences.
Responding to recommendations by ocean science faculty who participated in concept-mapping workshops with pre-college educators, COSEE-Ocean Systems designed, implemented and evaluated a series of scientist-centered, professional-development workshop models for graduate students. The teaming of these groups to create web-based ocean-climate products leverages both the scientific expertise of the faculty researchers and the technical capabilities of the graduate students.
Evidence shows that operationally breaking down topics and reorganizing them into graphical formats benefited faculty and graduate students alike. Each workshop culminated with the graduate students delivering oral presentations to nonscientist audiences such as high school students. Graduate students were highly rated on their abilities to place topics within a broad societal context. In a follow-up survey, graduate students recognized the potential of concept mapping to enhance their professional skills and to organize their own research.
Three additional Centers (California, NOW, and West) have followed up the OS series with workshops of their own, partnering ocean research faculty with scientists-in-training (graduate students and postdoctoral researchers) to create concept maps on ocean and climate topics at their institutions. To date, there have been five workshops (see list at left).
Quotes From Workshop Participants
"The learning experience and the interaction with the faculty and high school students was very informative and I feel more positive about interacting with the general public about my science."
"The process of designing a concept map forces you to organise your ideas on a simple diagram and encourages you to think about topics in a different way."
"Concept mapping is certainly a good communication tool, and can be used as representations of different patterns of thought. This is very important in both education and communication with peers."
COSEE-Ocean Systems, with a team of researchers and other experts from the University of Maine, New England Aquarium, and the Institute for Broadening Participation, was established to implement several integrated activities, each designed to improve COSEE's impact on rural and inland communities.
The goal of COSEE California is to connect ocean scientists and educators to promote ocean literacy nationwide. COSEE California develops tools, programs, and courses that are in widespread use throughout the National COSEE Network.
COSEE NOW is an online network of scientists and educators focused on increasing ocean literacy and fostering collaborations.
COSEE-West strives to improve K-12 ocean science education through activities that provide high quality science content and resources for K-12 teachers and informal educators.
COSEE-Ocean Systems Annette deCharon School of Marine Sciences University of Maine
COSEE California Cheryl Peach Scripps Institution of Oceanography
COSEE NOW Janice McDonnell Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences Rutgers University
COSEE-West Linda Duguay College of Letters, Arts and Sciences University of Southern California