Developing Multiple Literacies and Foundational Research Skills in Students through Audio Narratives on Global Warming Solutions

Introductory-level Earth science courses provide students an important opportunity to build foundational skills for research and communication of science content, especially when it comes to climate science. An introductory course at Penn State Brandywine titled “Earth in the Future: Predicting Climate Change and Its Impacts Over the Next Century” utilizes a scaffolded instructional approach and faculty from several campus units to develop multiple literacies (information, digital, science) and professional skills (writing and speaking) in students. The course highlights not just the climate challenges facing society but promotes an awareness of climate solutions in place and being developed through models such as Project Drawdown. Students start the course by selecting a Drawdown solution to reverse global warming as the focus of their learning throughout the semester. The first scaffolded step addresses information literacy. Students learn search strategies to find climate sources as well as how to evaluate these sources for credibility and reliability. For the purposes of this assignment in this freshman-level course, students are encouraged to use sources where the writing can be understood by a non-STEM audience (Scientific American, Ensia, The Washington Post, etc.). It is hoped that if students use these sources while in college, they will continue to access these sources after graduation to continue learning content. The second scaffolded step is to prepare students to write a story in the format of a script they can record. The writing center on campus assists students as they use assigned templates (for this course, we use the COMPASS Message Box) to frame the information for their story. The writing center also brings professional and peer tutors to the classroom for guided group peer review of the first draft of the completed scripts. The final scaffolded step involves digital training with software and hardware freely available on campus for students to audio record their research on climate solutions. Audio was selected as the medium for students as it is an accessible technology with a low entry to utilization, ease of recording at home and away from campus, and the ability to listen and review during commute times. In addition to preparing students to gather information, to write a narrative for sharing instead of a report, and to verbally communicate their findings, the assignment has provided additional outcomes. Students now seek out assistance from librarians for projects in additional courses – there is a “barrier” that has been broken down and students realize the resources are available. Students also utilizethe writing center on campus for assistance beyond this course, having learned how to book appointments and having met with a tutor one-on-one to complete their Message Box. Students also report that there is value in having a peer review their work. Finally, students report a sense of accomplishment and pride once the audio file is complete. Some students includethe audio file on their LinkedIn profile and in ePortfolios. Getting students comfortable and familiar with campus resources and how to communicate content they learn is an important foundation to have in the early undergraduate years and can lead to a successful early start for a junior- or senior-level research experience.

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Work Title Developing Multiple Literacies and Foundational Research Skills in Students through Audio Narratives on Global Warming Solutions
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Open Access
Creators
  1. Laura Guertin
  2. James Berkey
  3. Annie Jansen
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
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  1. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research
Publication Date November 1, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/1/5
Deposited March 13, 2023

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    • Introductory-level Earth science courses provide students an important opportunity to build foundational skills for research and communication of science content, especially when it comes to climate science. An introductory course at Penn State Brandywine titled “Earth in the Future: Predicting Climate Change and Its Impacts Over the Next Century” utilizes a scaffolded instructional approach and faculty from several campus units to develop multiple literacies (information, digital, science) and professional skills (writing and speaking) in students. The course highlights not just the climate challenges facing society but promotes an awareness of climate solutions in place and being developed through models such as Project Drawdown. Students start the course by selecting a Drawdown solution to reverse global warming as the focus of their learning throughout the semester. The first scaffolded step addresses information literacy. Students learn search strategies to find climate sources as well as how to evaluate these sources for credibility and reliability. For the purposes of this assignment in this freshman-level course, students are encouraged to use sources where the writing can be understood by a non-STEM audience (Scientific American, Ensia, The Washington Post, etc.). It is hoped that if students use these sources while in college, they will continue to access these sources after graduation to continue learning content. The second scaffolded step is to prepare students to write a story in the format of a script they can record. The writing center on campus assists students as they use assigned templates (for this course, we use the COMPASS Message Box) to frame the information for their story. The writing center also brings professional and peer tutors to the classroom for guided group peer review of the first draft of the completed scripts. The final scaffolded step involves digital training with software and hardware freely available on campus for students to audio record their research on climate solutions. Audio was selected as the medium for students as it is an accessible technology with a low entry to utilization, ease of recording at home and away from campus, and the ability to listen and review during commute times. In addition to preparing students to gather information, to write a narrative for sharing instead of a report, and to verbally communicate their findings, the assignment has provided additional outcomes. Students now seek out assistance from librarians for projects in additional courses – there is a “barrier” that has been broken down and students realize the resources are available. Students also utilizethe writing center on campus for assistance beyond this course, having learned how to book appointments and having met with a tutor one-on-one to complete their Message Box. Students also report that there is value in having a peer review their work. Finally, students report a sense of accomplishment and pride once the audio file is complete. Some students includethe audio file on their LinkedIn profile and in ePortfolios. Getting students comfortable and familiar with campus resources and how to communicate content they learn is an important foundation to have in the early undergraduate years and can lead to a successful early start for a junior- or senior-level research experience.
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  • Updated