Communication Science over UFV’s reading break

For those who haven’t planned out their reading break activities yet, Vancouver is lucky enough to be hosting the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting from 16-20 February at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

The meeting includes a Career Weekend with a bunch of FREE career development workshops that are open to anyone regardless of degree level or career stage.

UFV’s own Michelle Riedlinger is running a workshop on the Sunday afternoon called Communicating in a Minute: Reaching Decision Makers and is anticipating a lively (as well as informative) session. The workshop is going for a Dragon’s Den (or Science Idol) model where researchers have just 60 seconds to pitch their research to a panel representing decision makers and grant providers.

See the people at the AAAS registration desk (located in the Vancouver Convention Centre, Exhibit Hall B1) on the morning of the day/s you’ll be attending and they’ll organize a badge for you.

Learning Outcomes

image source: 1/2

A couple of years ago I attended a presentation at an Educational Technology conference in Calgary. The presenter used a series of photos to demonstrate the transformative influence of technology on everyday human activity. Examples included music (a Victorola phongraph juxtaposed with an iPod), communication (a wall-mounted telephone from the 1930s contrasted with a Blackberry, and medicine (a doctor’s surgery from the 19th Century contrasted with a modern operating theatre). The punchline for the presentation was a pair of images similar to the ones above: a standard classroom setup separated by the passage of 80 years or so. At least in terms of physical surroundings, a teacher from the past would have no problem fitting in and recognizing the classroom environment where learning takes place today. If teaching methods have changed so little, what’s the likelihood learning outcomes have changed very much?

There’s a lot of talk about transformative change in education, but it’s worth considering how much change is possible when the basic structure of the classroom — the physical space but also the learning activities that are possible within that space — seems to be resistant to change.

UFV is engaged in an institution-wide consideration of what education should provide students in the 21st Century. It’s a great opportunity to consider if the existing structure of post-secondary education adequately prepares graduates for the work environment that awaits them and, if not, what needs to change to make a Bachelor’s degree more relevant.

Basso Profundo

Call it the result of cultural conditioning or some deeper instinctual response, but research published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that merely lowering the pitch of your voice when speaking can lead to a greater sense of empowerment and gains in the ability to think abstractly. Oddly enough the effect measured was not on the audience, but on the speakers themselves. There’s a wealth of literature linking a deep voice to a greater sense of confidence in the speaker from an audience, but this study indicates that speakers themselves are affected subconsciously by the pitch of their own voices.

Source: British Psychological Society Research Digest