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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

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Innovative Courses/Pedagogies in Liberal Education I

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

15.640.1 - 15.640.13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/16230

Download Count

19

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Paper Authors

biography

Ari Epstein MIT

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ARI W. EPSTEIN is a lecturer in the MIT Terrascope program, and also in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is the lead developer and instructor of Terrascope Radio and serves as the director of Terrascope Youth Radio. He is particularly interested in team-oriented, project-based learning, and in bridging the gap between learning in formal academic settings and learning in "free-choice" or "informal" settings, such as museums, media and clubs.

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Joellen Easton American Public Media

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JOELLEN EASTON works as public insight analyst at the public radio program "Marketplace," from American Public Media. She came to Los Angeles from Boston, where she had worked in public radio since 1998, most recently at Public Radio International's Global Resources Desk at the program "The World." She holds an M.S. from the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT, where she helped to develop Terrascope Radio and served as a Teaching Assistant for the class.

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Rekha Murthy Public Radio Exchange

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REKHA MURTHY is Director of Projects + Partnerships at the Public Radio Exchange (PRX), an online marketplace for the distribution of public radio content. Prior to joining PRX she was a user-experience designer for web and mobile applications and a producer for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." She holds an M.S. from the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT, where she helped to develop (and later served as a Teaching Assistant for) Terrascope Radio.

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Emily Davidson MIT

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EMILY DAVIDSON is a senior at MIT, majoring in Chemical Engineering with a double minor in Physics and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. She has been both a student and an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow in Terrascope Radio, and has also served as a mentor to teen interns in Terrascope Youth Radio.

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Jennifer de Bruijn MIT

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JENNIFER DE BRUIJN is a sophomore at MIT studying Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is a member of Engineers Without Borders, a group which is developing a water treatment scheme in rural Uganda. She is looking forward to working back home in Zimbabwe after her time at MIT.

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Tracey Hayse MIT

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TRACEY HAYSE is a junior majoring in Environmental Engineering and minoring in Public Policy at MIT. She is interested in working on water quality and sanitation issues in developing areas, as well as sustainability projects.

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Elise Hens MIT

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ELISE HENS is a sophomore studying Environmental Engineering at MIT, with a minor in Environmental Public Policy. A sister of Alpha Chi Omega, she hopes to return to her native Colorado some day to work on water policy and in the process try to save the planet.

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Margaret Lloyd

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MARGARET LLOYD is a sophomore at MIT studying biochemical engineering. She is interested in journalism and cancer research, and has found that communication skills are useful in both of these areas. As an editor for the school newspaper and a volunteer in a lab at the UC Davis Medical Center, Margaret has found many opportunities to apply what she learned in Terrascope Radio. She is from Sacramento, CA.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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

Abstract

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.

Introduction

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. https://peer.asee.org/16230

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