Talking Science: Undergraduates’ Everyday Conversations as Acts of Boundary Spanning That Connect Science to Local Communities

Hana Shah, Josue Simeon, Kathleen Quardokus Fisher, Sarah L. Eddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Biologists produce knowledge that can be applied to both global and personal challeng-es. Thus, communicating this knowledge to the general public is becoming increasing-ly important. One way information can move between different communities is through boundary spanners. Boundary spanners are individuals embedded in both communities who can communicate information known by one community to the other. We explore whether undergraduate biology majors can act as boundary spanners connecting their biology departments to laypeople in their personal networks. We conducted 20 interviews with upper-division first-generation college students at a large Hispanic-serving institu-tion. These students were engaging in everyday conversations about science with people in their personal networks. They engaged in behaviors that characterize boundary span-ners: translating scientific language into more common language and knowledge building, that is, providing background concepts that community members need to understand a topic. Finally, students were sometimes perceived as credible resources and sometimes were not. We explore some of the causes of this variation. The boundary spanning of undergraduates could help address one of the major challenges facing the scientific com-munity: spreading the use of scientific knowledge in personal and policy decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar12
JournalCBE life sciences education
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, American Society for Cell Biology. All rights reserved.

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