The mutually beneficial nature of Scientist-Educator Collaborative (SEC) workshops fosters positive interactions between scientists and educators.
Through its SEC workshops, COSEE-Ocean Systems (COSEE-OS) has increased the capacity of scientists and educators to effectively communicate about complex science topics.
Scientists provide educators with rigorous content knowledge resulting from their scientific training.
Educators provide scientists an opportunity to learn about the challenges that they face integrating scientific topics into K-12 classrooms.
The SEC workshops provide both scientists and educators an opportunity to receive immediate constructive feedback on the efficacy of their communication to various audiences.
The COSEE-OS Scientist-Educator Collaborative (SEC) Workshops follow a peer-to-peer model of interaction between educators and scientists. In many scientist-educator interactions, the scientist is considered to be the expert while the educator is primarily considered to be a recipient of science content. The educators, in this scenario, have little to contribute to the scientist's knowledge base. In the SEC model, scientists and educators are considered the be on level ground, with each group being the expert in their own area (Figure 1). With the peer-to-peer model, it is key that both groups believe they have something to learn from each other, and this leads to a mutually beneficial collaboration. Through COSEE-OS facilitated workshops, scientist contribute rigorous content knowledge resulting from their scientific training and the educators likewise contribute rigorous pedagogical expertise about the needs of different audiences.
Through its SEC workshops, COSEE-OS has increased the capacity of scientists and educators to effectively communicate about complex science topics via the process of consensus-based concept mapping. A valuable two-way exchange of information takes place as these two groups collaborate to make a "consensus" concept map of a research topic that they can then apply to their own work. Such professional development is a rarity given that scientists' traditional role in such workshops is usually limited to delivering content.
"When working with our team of educators, they suggested an alternative arrangement for my concept map, showing the different paths that could be taken. The linear approach was something that helped my point to be more clear, and the educators helped me to see why feedback loops could be a confusing concept for their audiences." -Scientist David Avery, University of Connecticut
For many scientists, the SEC workshops also provide an opportunity to receive immediate constructive feedback on the efficacy of their communication to non-science audiences. Educators, on the other hand, provide scientists an opportunity to learn about the challenges that they face integrating scientific topics into K-12 classrooms. The mutually beneficial nature of the SEC workshops has fostered positive interactions between scientists and educators: on average, educators (n=67) rated the quality of interaction a 6.6 on a 7.0 Likert-type scale.
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.