Scott Glenn ~ Ocean Observer


Communicating Ocean Science
to Informal Audiences

The Communicating Ocean Science (COS) and Communicating Ocean Science to Informal Audiences (COSIA) courses were first developed by COSEE California. COSEE NOW PI Janice MacDonnell was asked to pilot the course, and asked Dr. Scott Glenn to co-teach it. Since it was first offered in Spring 2006, 85 students have completed the course. "It's a resume item for them, it makes them stand out," says Janice. "It was an important addition to COSEE, a watershed for how scientists and educators work together. And Scott was the first scientist to stick his neck out and say 'I’ll do it'."

As part of the course students develop original lesson plans that they use either on the floor of the Liberty Science Center or on campus during Rutgers Day, when over 50,000 members of the public visit the campus. Most of the students who take the COSIA course are planning to become research scientists. For them Scott is a role model, a high-achieving research scientist who takes the time to think about how people learn and how he communicates his science. "This is a leadership role that not many were willing to take on," says Janice. "For Scott to be so involved sets a standard, which is a good thing."

"The class did not fit into the standard definition of scholarship and I found that intriguing," says Scott. "I felt it was an important class to teach and it would broaden my skills." Through teaching the class Scott feels he has become a better communicator. "I use those skills every day," he says, "dealing with people from different agencies or industries, knowing how to communicate with them. One result is we are bringing people from outside our discipline into the COOL room, like the English Department."

Teaching COSIA has also changed Scott's educational philosophy, as he has learned how people learn and how to translate their work to public audiences more effectively. "His perspective on lessons is never to compromise content," says Janice. "By understanding how people learn you can figure out how not to sacrifice content, and make it accessible."

Tina Haskins
Tina Haskins, Graduate Student, Rutgers University
Learning to reach a broader audience through COSIA
Amelia Snow
Amelia Snow, Undergraduate Student, Rutgers University
COSIA helps students look at education differently