ERIC Number: EJ1136293
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Abstractor: As Provided
How Do People Think about the Science They Encounter in Fiction? Undergraduates Investigate Responses to Science in "The Simpsons"
Orthia, Lindy A.; Dobos, Amy R.; Guy, Tristan; Kan, Shanan Z.; Keys, Siân E.; Nekvapil, Stefan; Ngu, Dalton H. Y.
International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement, v2 n2 p149-174 2012
In this study, students and staff involved in an undergraduate science communication course investigated people's responses to a science-rich episode of the animated sitcom "The Simpsons". Using focus groups, we sought to find out if and how the episode influenced our 34 participants' perceptions of science, but our results problematised the very notion of influence. People's responses to the science in the episode varied widely, and sometimes in contradictory ways, from some participants seeing no science at all in the episode to others seeing science as the ideological focus of the entire story. Participants' discussions were shaped and influenced by a myriad of factors, including their relationship to science and their personal and religious beliefs, but also historical discourses, political discourses, experiences watching other television programmes and other factors. We draw on the work of Roman Ingarden to suggest that people fill in or "concretise" the ambiguities and gaps in a fiction text in ways specific to their personal, social, geographical and temporal context, resulting in different interpretations of the text's meaning with each fresh viewing. We conclude that a deficit model which assumes that people absorb fiction's content in a linear, passive and credulous manner is an inappropriate characterisation of how people process the science in fiction.
Descriptors: Undergraduate Study, College Science, Focus Groups, Undergraduate Students, Cartoons, Animation, Science Instruction, Television Viewing, Communication Strategies, Fiction, Responses, Ideology, Teaching Methods
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A