Pharmacology students’ perceptions of creating multimodal digital explanations
Students can now digitally construct their own representations of scientific concepts using a variety of modes including writing, diagrams, 2-D and 3-D models, images or speech, all of which communicate meaning. In this study, final-year chemistry students studying a pharmacology subject created a “blended media” digital product as an assignment to summarize an independently prepared technical literature review on a current research topic in pharmacology for a non-expert audience. A blended media is a simplified way for students to combine a variety of modes to complement a narration to explain a concept to others. In this study, the students learned how to create a blended media during a one-hour workshop, and used the technique to create the representation as an assessment task. The research question that guided the study was, “What are the students’ perceptions of making a digital product such as blended media and how did these shape their multimodal awareness?” We draw from theoretical perspectives in multimodalities, representations and meaning making. Data included interviews at three points of the semester, the literature review and the digital media product. We present three case studies with volunteering students, who demonstrated a strong awareness of effective communications techniques as they attended to the audience. Making a blended media is a creative way for chemistry students to summarize complex scientific information and as a task may help to focus their multimodal awareness and developing communications skills.