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TIDESS team with globe

Getting my Feet Wet

The Fall semester got off to a quick start with the TIDESS project! New to the project, it was exciting getting up to speed. To introduce myself, I am a junior undergraduate student majoring in Political Science and Sociology. Just like Carrie, I might seem like an unusual fit for the TIDESS project, but with my studies in sociology, I am excited to apply my knowledge of how people engage and interact with their environments. I am interested to see how users learn and make meaning of the world around them by using data visualizations, and how they make connections to our planet by referring to their own experiences.

I entered the project in the heat of the team finishing a peer-reviewed conference paper submission. For the paper, I had the opportunity to work on the background section on embodied cognition, a theory we are using to ground some of our interpretations, which was a bit of a challenge. The education team and I spent a lot of time discussing what embodied cognition means to us and how users used embodied cognition while interacting with the tabletop. To find evidence of embodied cognition in the tabletop study, I had my first attempt at coding qualitative data. In a past research project I worked on, I practiced the fundamentals of coding, but it was an informal practice. With the TIDESS project, I put this idea to work formally. To find examples of embodied cognition, the education team studied transcripts from the study in order to pull examples of conceptual metaphors—a crucial part to identifying embodied cognition. It was a challenge at first to agree on what we thought were strong examples of embodied cognition, but once we narrowed it down to the two most apparent metaphors, we were able to define embodied cognition more clearly. Once we came to agreement, our second round of coding was much easier, and our team pulled strong examples for the paper.

It was a great learning experience to see how the conference paper was formed. Even though I have read various research papers before working on this project, I never knew how research papers were structured. I was also surprised at how much editing goes into formal research papers. After the first conference proposal, I have shifted my attention to writing a research paper for the NARST conference. The NARST conference is specifically for work on science education research. So far, I have had the opportunity to expand on our approved abstract and take my first couple attempts at writing the paper.

Looking forward to this spring semester, I am eager to get involved with the focus groups for our sphere study and possibly start a project of my own. With the upcoming focus group results, we will continue our research on museum exhibits while incorporating a physical model, the sphere, into our study. Since this study is focused on what people know or want to know about museum exhibits and oceans, I want to see how people conceptualize our global ocean systems without the use of an exhibit. Some brainstorming ideas include having participants draw a map of our oceans or color a map to portray their perceptions of ocean temperature. Clearly, a lot of research and planning still needs to be done to this study. Overall, I believe having an understanding about how people view our ocean systems can help us learn what would be effective in an interactive ocean museum exhibit.

by Hannah Neff


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