This online, graduate-level course provides emergent scientists with much-needed professional development activities that will increase their abilities in collaboration and effective communication of their research findings.

Students work with each other to create, share and evaluate specific communication products. Throughout the course, they use various online tools, critical thinking strategies, and collaborative approaches to:
  • Deconstruct their research
  • Explain their research
  • Engage new people with their research
  • Broaden the impacts of their research
Deconstruct Their Research
During this section, students deconstruct their research into its component parts. Using online tools, the students investigate how their research is connected to other domains by constructing preliminary concept maps. They also learn the basics about the appropriate use of copyright-free resources to illustrate their research.

Explain Their Research
During this section, students collaborate with 1-2 classmate(s) to formulate ideas for cohesive interdisciplinary research projects. They create short (2-minute) videos, along with blog posts to explain their research project ideas. In addition, they evaluate their classmates' work through online comments, both anonymously and with attribution. They also compare different types of language used to communicate science to experts and novices and, for extra credit, employ common words to summarize their research. Project #1 (20% of the total) is graded based on the package of concept maps, videos, and blog posts.

Engage New People With Their Research
During this section, students learn from guest experts about interacting with mass media and storytelling. They investigate research on public attitudes towards science to help choose appropriate target audiences for a "communication product" of their choosing. They also survey members of their target audience(s) to deduce whether or not their intended "take-home messages" were successfully delivered. Project #2 (20% of the total) is graded based on their communication product and summary of survey results.

Broaden the Impacts of Their Research
During this section, students discover the fundamentals of "broader impacts" project design and evaluation, including collaboration with experts in education/outreach. They also conduct analyses of previously funded "broader impacts" proposals. Project #3 (20% of the total) is graded based on their two-page "Project Summary / Broader Impacts" proposal for an open or archived federal research program (e.g., NSF, NOAA, NASA, etc.) and reviews of other students' proposals.