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Board 81: STEM Storytellers: Improving the Oral Communication Skills of STEM Graduate Students

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

4

DOI

10.18260/1-2--30115

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30115

Download Count

510

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Paper Authors

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Shannon D. Willoughby Montana State University

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Brock J. LaMeres Montana Engineering Education Research Center

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Dr. Brock J. LaMeres is the Director of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center (MEERC) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Montana State University. LaMeres teaches and conducts research in the area of computer engineering. LaMeres is currently studying the effectiveness of online delivery of engineering content with emphasis on how the material can be modified to provide a personalized learning experience. LaMeres is also researching strategies to improve student engagement and how they can be used to improve diversity within engineering. LaMeres received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published over 80 manuscripts and 2 textbooks in the area of digital systems and engineering education. LaMeres has also been granted 13 US patents in the area of digital signal propagation. LaMeres is a member of ASEE, a Senior Member of IEEE, and a registered Professional Engineer in the States of Montana and Colorado. Prior to joining the MSU faculty, LaMeres worked as an R&D engineer for Agilent Technologies in Colorado Springs, CO where he designed electronic test equipment.

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Bryce E. Hughes Montana State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9414-394X

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Bryce E. Hughes is an Assistant Professor in Adult and Higher Education at Montana State University, and holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as an M.A. in Student Development Administration from Seattle University and a B.S. in General Engineering from Gonzaga University. His research interests include teaching and learning in engineering, STEM education policy, and diversity and equity in STEM.

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Chris Organ

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Jennifer L. Green Montana State University

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Dr. Green is an assistant professor of Statistics. Her research focuses on the development of statistical methodology to characterize the impact of professional development and educational programs on teacher effectiveness and student learning, and she collaborates with others in the mathematical and educational sciences to create innovative approaches for teacher development in grades K-12 and in higher education.

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Leila Belle Sterman Montana State University

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Kent Davis

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Abstract

Members of the STEM workforce are notorious for lacking the ability to describe their work to people outside of their narrow fields. This primarily results from a lack of training in oral communication that focuses on how to communicate with the public. Graduate students do not receive extensive opportunities to practice the communication skills crucial for effective professionals. Most communication experience in graduate school comes in the form of presenting at technical conferences or presenting their work to their peers. The resulting inability to communicate effectively, and communicate to a wider audience, contributes to the void in scientific engagement of our citizens. As a long term consequence, our broader society does not understand the importance of STEM and in turn, does not strongly support nor champion STEM-related policies. To meet the grand challenges that face our population, we need a STEM workforce with exceptional communication skills, as well as a society that understands and supports large scale initiatives to spur STEM innovation and bolster STEM education. This paper presents a novel oral communication curriculum that is being developed and tested at Montana State University. The program, called the “STEM Storytellers Program”, uses a transformative approach to training graduate students that pulls knowledge from the journalism and performing arts community. Our program has three specific components: (1) creating jargon-less podcasts; (2) receiving training from an improvisational actor on stage presence; and (3) presenting at “curiosity cafes” to audiences from the general public. This project is funded through the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Program within the Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) track. This paper will present the design of the curriculum including the overarching theoretical framework, programmatic issues, and recruiting. This paper will be of interest to faculty that wish to improve graduate student oral communication skills and are seeking novel programs that are being pilot tested at other universities.

Willoughby, S. D., & LaMeres, B. J., & Hughes, B. E., & Organ, C., & Green, J. L., & Sterman, L. B., & Davis, K. (2018, June), Board 81: STEM Storytellers: Improving the Oral Communication Skills of STEM Graduate Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30115

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