Multimedia and the Mass Communication of Science

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Scientific studies are published for the scientific community. More specifically, they tend to be written with the expectation of being read by peers. This may seem obvious, and yet it shouldn't be. The style of writing that occurs when writing to peers cannot help but alienate a portion of the audience that should be informed. This also results in increasingly isolated divisions of the scientific community and widens the gaps between disciplines in terms of interests, language, and knowledge. Archaeology is one of the first fields to become dissatisfied with this division. As an area that relies upon multidisciplinary data, archaeology is uniquely positioned to understand that the world is too complex to be fully understood by any single discipline of the scientific community. It is important to present data and analysis in ways that can be understood and contributed to by all areas. Beyond that, many scientific studies, especially in the areas of archaeology and historical ecology, are taken on with the intention of using the results in deciding how we will manage our world. Therefore, studies must be understood even outside of the scientific community. A multimedia approach is key to the clear and concise communication of data in and between archeaology, other disciplines, and the wide world. A multimedia approach, for the purpose of this paper, includes information graphics such as illustrations, graphs and charts, screenshots, videos or animations, and photographs, as well as the use of three-dimensional models and simulation programs. Their effect on knowledge acquisition and retention is well documented; Mayer (1989) found that labeled illustrations combined with text provided better conceptual understanding of scientific... ... middle of paper ... ...research on teaching (pp. 583–682). Chicago, IL: Rand-McNally. Mayer, R. E. (1989). Systematic thinking fostered by illustrations in scientific text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 240-246. Mayer, R. E. (1997). Multimedia learning: Are we asking the right questions?. Educational Psychologist, 32(1), 1-19. Mayer, R. E. & Gallini, J. K. (1990). When is an illustration worth ten thousand words? Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 715–726. Slator, B., Clark, J., Landrum, J., Bergstrom, A., Hawley, J., Johnston, E., et al. (2001). Teaching with Immersive Virtual Archaeology. Strange, D. (2007). On Cognition and the Media. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21(8), 979-980. Wittrock, M. C. (1986). Students' thought processes. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.),Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed). (pp. 297–314). New York: Macmillan.

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