If you print it, (and offer it for free, along with snacks), they will come.

by Jen

Last week I presented a workshop in conjunction with Public Communication for Researchers, here on campus at Carnegie Mellon. We had about two dozen participants. I presented the main ideas from my thesis work, (essentially an updated form of the talk I developed for the TEDxCMU audition, which I also plan to update later this semester with the rest of my thesis insights). I explained the basic ideas of cultural cognition, as well as the framework for science communication that I have developed over the course of the year, and I provided each participant with a paper prototype of the method card set I designed to support this framework. The workshop itself had the dual purpose of both education as well as evaluation for my framework and its potential as a tool for future science communication design.


As I walked through the different values and cultural worldviews described by the cultural cognition theory of communication, and then described the facets of my own communication design strategy, participants reflected on their own values and how their worldview influences their communication. We discussed how these strategies differ from the current approach to science communication.

We worked through a handful of exercises that I’ve included in the method card set, and so doing, I hoped the participants would develop a sense for how this strategy can improve their science communication skills. 

At the workshop, I was able to solicit feedback from 19 in attendance. For me, there was inherent value simply in observing how people made use of the information I was sharing and the cards’ potential usefulness in the workshop itself. However, I was especially interested in how useful these science students and researchers believed this tool might be in the future and I asked them a handful of questions both pre- and post-workshop to evaluate the information itself as well as the potential for such a design tool.  My goal in designing this type of card deck is for scientists to use them both collaboratively and independently, and that its use can be both instructive (via exercises) and inspirational (values and strategies as any-time references). The feedback was promising:


Since the workshop, I have refined the cards a bit further, based on feedback from the workshop participants and others, and I’m beginning to look to the upcoming Thesis Poster Session and how I might share these outcomes on my thesis poster.

You can download the full card set here, and view the slides I used for the workshop presentation here: