These two pieces of assessment test your ability to apply what you learn in this course, your skill at conducting a real research project, and your depth of understanding of a specific topic in this research field. In a nutshell, you will conduct an original research-based project investigating some aspect of the science-fiction-public nexus. It entails planning every aspect of a research project, background research, collecting and analysing data, and writing a report.
Here are some ideas for structuring your project:
- Show a group of people a fiction text and use a focus group to explore how they respond to its science content, where response might mean their emotions, thoughts, behavioural intentions, perspectives, attitudes, opinions, etc.
- Use a focus group (and possibly other methods, like an online survey) to investigate how peoples attitudes and behaviours towards science – for example their interest or disinterest in studying science at university – have been influenced by a particular fiction text, or by any and all fiction theyve encountered over a long term period, e.g. their whole life.
- Create a science-themed short story, a science-themed short film, a fiction-based science centre exhibit, etc., supported by research.
- Devise a lesson plan for using one or more fiction texts to teach an aspect of the science curriculum to a group of students.
- Outline an idea for a far-fetched blockbuster movie, then make scientists or science students pretend they are scientific advisors for the movie or devise a strategy of engagement
The first step is to come up with a plausible proposal for a project, which has to be approved before you can proceed. The proposal needs to include, at minimum, 4 elements:
- engagement with relevant literature as the basis for the project
- a content analysis of your chosen fiction text(s), if your study is designed with one or more specific fiction pieces in mind
- a research question that derives from the above
- a full outline of your proposed methods.
As you can see, it will resemble the first half of a journal paper, including what are generally presented as an introduction, literature review and methods sections. After a general introduction your project proposal should set the scene with a discussion of why your project is important for science communication. Use the literature to discuss this context and any previous research that has similarity or relevance to your project. What problem are you trying to solve here? Why does that problem matter to science communicators or science teachers (or whoever is relevant)? How have other researchers tried to solve the project?
The problem might be something like we want more people to be interested in science or people dont practice safe sex or students have trouble learning Newtonian mechanics – nothing specific to fiction, just a general problem for science communicators. You need to explain (with references) why this is a problem. Draw on the general science communication, science education, science policy etc literature to construct this explanation. You will then need to explain why you think fiction could help solve this problem – again with references, but this time specifically drawing on previous studies in the science and popular fiction area, that have shown how and when fiction can be used to solve similar problems.
- Marking criteria:
- It must address all the points outlined above for inclusion in the report
- Well written, easy to read, minimal jargon
- It must be no more than 2000 words in length, excluding the references
- Excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Appropriate, well justified research approach
- Appropriate, well justified research method
- If creating a lesson plan, it will also be marked on links to curriculum, a clear target audience, all supported by research why fiction is needed / can be used.
- Originality of idea of the end product (report, lesson plan, etc.) and piece or pieces of which it is based upon