Communicating science in stealth

Author: Chammika Udalagama – Department of Physics, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Meng Ho Tan – Department of Physics, NUS

“Science is not boring after all. I feel smarter now. everything makes so much sense. …” So claimed a student in the end-of-course feedback for ‘How the Ocean Works’.

‘How the Ocean Works’ is a general education module (GEM) offered by the Department of Physics at NUS. GEMs are meant for students from all faculties of the University and require no pre-requisites. A typical cohort consists of about 150 students, half of whom are from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Most of these students have had no formal training in science.

‘How the Ocean Works’ introduces many concepts from physics, chemistry, and mathematics. However, we try to do this in stealth, in the guise of wanting to understand the ocean. This and the other strategies employed seems to work. ‘How the Ocean Works’ has been offered for five years and has enjoyed remarkably positive feedback in that time. While this feedback is encouraging, has the experience made a lasting impact on the student? For instance, has it changed the perception of the science, in non-science majors? Are they less intimidated by science? Or more ready to take other science courses. Would they recommend the study of science to their peers, family or friends? These we feel are more significant measures of a course. This talk will first address our claim of teaching science in stealth. We will then attempt to assess if we have made a long-term difference in our students’ perception of science.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices