USING ROLE-PLAY TO IMPROVE SCIENCE COMMUNICATION EFFICACY IN STUDENTS
An initial study has looked at the students’ confidence with communicating in different scenarios. A communication anxiety/apprehension instrument (PRCA-24; McCroskey, 1982; 1984) was used to measure pre- and post- communication efficacies (i.e., confidence). Results show that the mean student improvement (n = 19) was 1.6%, with most students (n = 12 of 19) achieving positive changes in communication efficacy after participating in the learning activity. The most positive changes were found in the team discussion communication category (mean of 3.8%). The magnitude of these positive changes are comparable to semester long communication therapy situations, which is remarkable considering the changes associated with the simulation were achieved over the space of two days. Some students’ efficacy did not change for the better (e.g., -6 and -12%), while some students had extreme positive shifts (e.g., 12 and 22%) indicating that the role-play had different impacts on students’ confidence. Future research will be focused on variables which may control these differential affects.
Overall, our research indicates that there are several variables which contribute to student’s ability to perform communications effectively: a. confidence in one’s ability to communicate, b. content knowledge of the geologic and emergency management topics, c. knowledge of communication best practices, d. appropriate perceptions of communication best practices, and e. communication experience.