Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 26 Issue 01

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Volume 26, No. 1
Pages 98 - 105


Concept Mapping Workshops: Helping Ocean Scientists Represent and Communicate Science

By Annette deCharon , Linda Duguay, Janice McDonnell , Cheryl Peach, Carla Companion, Christen Herren , Patricia Harcourt, Theodore Repa, Carrie Ferraro , Patricia Kwon, Sage Lichtenwalner, Eric Simms , and Lynn Whitley 
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Article Abstract

Public appreciation and basic understanding of the role the ocean plays in the global environment has become more important as the urgency to make decisions on complex environmental issues has increased. Because communicating science to the public is often challenging for scientists, they can benefit from employing methods such as concept mapping, which “deconstructs” science into discrete ideas and organizes them into graphical formats. Responding to recommendations by ocean science faculty who participated in concept-mapping workshops with pre-college educators, four Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence designed, implemented, and evaluated a series of professional development workshops for graduate students. These workshops engaged 20 faculty-level ocean scientists to help 73 graduate students depict complex scientific ideas using concept maps. Evidence shows that operationally breaking down topics and reorganizing them into graphical formats benefited faculty and graduate students alike. Each workshop culminated with the graduate students delivering oral presentations to nonscientist audiences such as high school students. Graduate students were highly rated on their abilities to place topics within a broad societal context. In a follow-up survey, graduate students recognized the potential of concept mapping to enhance their professional skills and to organize their own research.


deCharon, A., L. Duguay, J. McDonnell, C. Peach, C. Companion, C. Herren, P. Harcourt, T. Repa, C. Ferraro, P. Kwon, S. Lichtenwalner, E. Simms, and L. Whitley. 2013. Concept mapping workshops: Helping ocean scientists represent and communicate science. Oceanography 26(1):98–105, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2013.08.


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