June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.640.1 - 15.640.13
Helping engineering and science students find their voice: Radio production as a way to enhance students’ communication skills and their competence at placing engineering and science in a broader societal context
Terrascope Radio is a class offered to second-semester freshmen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The subject satisfies one of their freshman humanities requirements, and also one “communication-intensive” requirement. Through intensive critical listening sessions and writing assignments, students develop a deep understanding of radio as a medium for the communication and expression of ideas. They explore radio-specific techniques—such as the use of sound to evoke a physical setting and the effective interweaving of interviews and ambient sound—as well as techniques common to a variety of media, such as the use and development of story arcs and pacing. At the same time, in laboratory and field sessions they develop proficiency in the technical aspects of radio production, such as gathering high-quality sound, audio editing and digital audio effects. The class culminates in a major team project, in which students develop and produce a radio documentary on the social, economic, political and technical aspects of a complex environmental issue. The documentary is aired on the MIT radio station and then distributed and licensed for broadcast on other community and public radio stations nationwide.
Student and faculty feedback on the class has been extremely positive, both in informal forums and in formal assessments. Students report (and show) strong learning gains both in oral communication, as one might expect, and also in written communication and the ability to explore in detail the broader societal context of their technical studies. Many students have used their work in the class as a jumping-off point, from which they have continued their exploration of radio/audio. For example, one group of former Terrascope Radio students created and now produces its own weekly radio program on environmental and social issues. Others work as mentors in Terrascope Youth Radio, an outreach program in which local urban high-school students create radio programs on environmental topics.
In this paper we describe the class in detail, paying particular attention to the aspects we believe are responsible for its success and lessons learned from its development. We also examine evaluation and assessment data, and we give examples of students’ work.
In this paper we describe a class designed to address questions faced by engineering and science faculty at many institutions: how to give students the skills necessary to communicate their ideas to diverse audiences, and how to help them develop the ability to see the broader societal context of their work. The class, called Terrascope Radio, is a component of one of MIT’s freshman learning communities, but it would be possible to develop similar classes independent of such a community. Students who have taken the class report not only that it has improved their communication skills and broadened their outlook, but also that it has enhanced their ability to function in teams, to approach unfamiliar settings with confidence and to absorb and process
Epstein, A., & Easton, J., & Murthy, R., & Davidson, E., & de Bruijn, J., & Hayse, T., & Hens, E., & Lloyd, M. (2010, June), Helping Engineering And Science Students Find Their Voice: Radio Production As A Way To Enhance Students' Communication Skills And Their Competence At Placing Engineering And Science In A Broader Societal Context Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16230
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