It’s hard to believe we’re already into March, but PoPUS has had an eventful spring semester so far! Most notably, seven student research assistants, Matthew, Jason, and I attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC last month. In addition to taking in many relevant talks at the conference, two PoPUS student groups presented posters in the student poster competition.
The first poster was entitled “The Use and Abuse of ‘Understanding’ in Public Understanding of Science.” The student researchers analyzed papers published in the journal Public Understanding of Science from 2010–2015. They used digital text analysis to identify and examine definitions of epistemic success terms, and systematically read and reviewed all papers claiming to measure epistemic states in that time period. The results, generally indicating a lack of differentiation between epistemic states — particularly between knowledge and understanding — and a dearth of instruments attempting to measure understanding. We will be writing up a paper discussing these results this spring. Victor LoPiccolo represented the group, presenting the poster in the Science and Society session.
The second student poster, “Can You Succeed at Science Without Knowing You’re Trying? The Effect of Priming Intellectual Virtues on Individual Effort and Understanding,” presented our researchers’ attempts to utilize the psychological methodology of priming to increase effort applied to learning a scientific subject. Participants were primed with “intellectual virtues” having to do with focus, motivation, and endurance. The researchers found no significant difference in either understanding or effort (as measured by time spent learning and answering questions) between groups. The null results were presented by Melissa Hopkins in the Social Sciences poster session. This project received an honorable mention!
Congratulations to all of the students who participated in these research projects. These students were in the mix with accomplished graduate students and their work fit right in.
Now that the AAAS meeting is over, we are back to work on these and other important projects. We would also like to welcome three new student research assistants to our group! Carson Maurice ’19 and Naama Kipperman ’17 will be working on our project examining the relationship between understanding of the scientific process and trust in science. Greg Ruda ’17 will be joining the project exploring communication tools for more resilient beliefs.
For more photos from AAAS 2016, check out this album.