Project Details

A project to help scientists and science learners learn how to translate scientific results, conclusions and recommendations into language easily understood by non-experts. A collaboration involving the University of Canterbury, University of Otago, Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, Massey University Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Mercalli Consulting and GNS Science Joint Centre for Disaster Research.

Aims: 

The main aim of the project was to develop and evaluate a suite of scenarios that can be used as real-time role-plays that develop communication skills. It also aimed to develop communication curriculum tools for use by educators.

Methodology:

The project's methodology featured:

  • development and evaluation of a complex scenario-based role-play, Communicate the Quake, to improve students’ science communication skills
  • opportunities for participants to practise communicating complex scientific and hazard management information to a wide variety of different stakeholder audiences, with access to a range of supporting scientific data
  • giving participants the opportunity to experience several authentic crisis communication tasks and use modern communication tools and technology.

Team

UC

Dr Erik Brogt

Project leader

University of Canterbury
UC

Jacqueline Dohaney

University of Canterbury
UC

Dr Brendon Bradley

University of Canterbury
university of otago

Vivienne Bryner

University of Otago
UC

Dr Darren Gravley

University of Canterbury
Nga Pae o te Maramatanga

Dr Dan Hikuroa

Nga Pae o te Maramatanga
massey centre for disaster research

Dr Emma Hudson-Doyle

Massey University Joint Centre for Disaster Research
UC

Steve Glassey

Mercalli Consulting and University of Canterbury
massey centre for disaster research

Professor David Johnston

Massey University and GNS Science Joint Centre for Disaster Research
UC

Dr Ben Kennedy

University of Canterbury
UC

Dr Mark Quigley

University of Canterbury
the university of auckland

Dr Jan Lindsay

The University of Auckland
UC

Dr Thomas Wilson

University of Canterbury

Status

Completed

Funding

$278,000.00 (excl GST)

$139,000.00 National Project Fund
$139,000.00 The University of Canterbury

Key Findings

Findings on student communication

  • The project found that students from the United States had statistically higher pre-scores for confidence than New Zealand students, indicating that students’ backgrounds may influence their communication confidence.
  • The average change was positive and statistically significant, indicating that Communicate the Quake was successful at increasing students’ confidence when communicating.
  • The project found changes were independent of students’ pre-scores, meaning that the scenario-based role-play was effective in changing confidence levels regardless of where they began.
  • The changes observed over the course of a single, multi-hour intervention were on par with changes observed in the literature for interventions that occured over much longer time frames.

Findings on participants' perceptions

  • The project compared participants’ perceptions of crisis communication to those of experts. (academics, emergency managers and science communicators) and found participants showed statistically significant positive shifts (ie, they had more agreement with experts).
  • Several factors appeared to influence the level of change achieved such as students’ nationalities, their year of degree programme, and the scenario-based role-play team in which they were placed.
  • Using 49 individual statements on different elements of science communication best practice, analysis showed that there were some best practices in which most student groups agreed with experts (showing high perceptions) and others which they disagreed with experts (showing low perceptions).
  • There were several topics with which experts struggled with (ie, they gave predominantly neutral responses, with distributions leaning towards agreeing or disagreeing) that coincided with mixed and low perceptions from the student participants.
  • These topics were comprehensiveness, showing the scientist’s emotions, political influence/agenda, use of formal language, and use of graphs and plots.
  • The statements for which the emergency management professionals disagreed with the student groups were the ‘why’ of the crisis, discussing past crisis scenarios and the communication of probabilities.
  • The topics were potentially important topics to explore further and understand.

Key Recommendations

  • Communicate the value of scenario-based role-play | Share information to ensure practising geoscientists, engineers and emergency management professionals in the field understand more about scenario-based role-play and the benefits for communicating science to a wider audience.

Report

RESEARCH REPORT | Improving Science Communication through Scenario-based Role-plays

A report prepared by Jacqueline Dohaney, Erik Brogt, Thomas Wilson, Emma Hudson-Doyle, Ben Kennedy, Jan Lindsay, Brendon Bradley, David Johnston, Darren Gravley.

(PDF, 3.2 MB, 86-pages).

  • 12 August 2016
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Report

SUMMARY REPORT | Improving Science Communication through Scenario-based Role-plays.

A report prepared by Jacqueline Dohaney, Erik Brogt, Thomas Wilson, Emma Hudson-Doyle, Ben Kennedy, Jan Lindsay, Brendon Bradley, David Johnston, Darren Gravley.  

(PDF, 536 KB, 4-pages).

  • 12 August 2016
Read more

Tool

COMPLETED PROJECT UPDATE 2016

An update prepared by Jacqueline Dohaney, Erik Brogt, Thomas Wilson, Emma Hudson-Doyle, Ben Kennedy, Jan Lindsay, Brendon Bradley, David Johnston, Darren Gravley. 

(PDF, 1.6MB, 4-pages).

  • 12 August 2016
Read more