Get the word out: Effectively communicating the results of PER (#aaptwm12)

by Stephanie Chasteen on February 6, 2012

I just gave my talk this morning on effective communication of PER, and how we can learn from the science communication field.  This can also be termed, as coined by Richard Hake, “PER needs more PR.” These are ideas I’ve been playing around with for a while, and gave a one hour invited talk at FFPER Puget Sound last year.

Did you miss the talk?  You can see my slides (below), or hear a recorded version of this ten minute talk.

I will make the case that we often stick to a flawed model of communication when we disseminate the results of physics education research (PER) to teachers.  We have a similar problem to those who study climate change or tobacco epidemiology; we have data that we think should effect behavior change (i.e., instruction).  Why doesn’t it?  While many instructors are aware of the instructional techniques that PER has demonstrated to be effective, research is showing that many instructors may miss the point of these methods, or quit using them after just one semester.  Just as climate scientists have needed to become versed in public communication, so do we need to become versed in communication with our audience (physicists).  I will outline some of the lessons we can learn from the research and practice of public science communication, and discuss the power and limits of communication in effecting behavior change.

Some tweets from the session (look for #aaptwm12)

  • @chrisgoedde First up @sciencegeekgirl about effective communication of PER.
  • @aschwortz First #PER talk: we need to learn from the science communication field. By @sciencegeekgirl apparently
  • @chrisgoedde hopefully, communicating about PER isn’t QUITE as hard as communicating about climate change!
  • @aschwortz Even though instructors know of results from #PER, they’re not doing it.
  • #PER communciation should learn from the lessons of communicating anti-smoking and climate change
  • @aschwortz Communicating #PER is all about a culture change within physics education
  • @chrisgoedde Almost half of faculty use PER i use for one semester, then stop.
  • @aschwortz  Eric Mazur’s “Confessions of Converted Lecturer” is given as an example.
  • @aschwortz And here’s a podcast on #per

Recorded video

You can download a video recording of the slide presentation that I recorded.  (8 MB M4V file)


Other resources

If you want more resources on this sort of thing, here are a few good books:

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