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VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) I. Communications Strategy Choose communication objectives / purpose Analyze needs and character of audience One person or many? interdisciplinary? culturally or globally diverse? technically trained or not? Audience knowledge / need for background information technical areas mathematical competency Audience concerns Analyze project constraints (deadlines, page limits, facilities) Choose a communication strategy Choose genre (report, proposal, procedures, etc.) Choose appropriate combination of media Choose a communication style (tone, persona, level of vocabulary) Select content and overall organization Choose a research strategy check internet resources check print resources write interview scripts, conduct interviews draft a working bibliography (use Endnotes, RefWorks, etc.) II. Communications Structure Construct logical explanations and arguments Back up assertions with supporting evidence, reasoning, and/or authority Use evidence that is accurate and credible Divide content into useful categories or "chunks" Use conventional headings for academic articles VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) Signal categories with headings and/or topic sentences Preview ideas with overviews and introductions Highlight key points Show the "big picture" before details Include technical abstracts or executive summaries Back up assertions with relevant, credible, accurate supporting evidence III. Multifaceted Nature of Engineering Communications A. Written Communication Organize ideas analytically (avoid narrative) Synthesize ideas Plan collaborative documents Format document to highlight organization and show relationships Choose appropriate genre and style (informal v formal, memo v report, etc.) Know and be able to write key technical genres: reports, proposals, procedures, specifications, technical descriptions, technical definitions Know and be able to write key business genres: reports, proposals, emails, letters, business plans, grant applications Write with coherence and flow Write unified, well organized paragraphs Write unified, well organized sections Write organized, parallel lists Integrate graphics and data with text Get user (reader) feedback and revise Give constructive feedback to other writers Use language, numbers, and technical terms with precision Use simple, unambiguous language for global communication Use technical terms correctly Revise paragraphs for conciseness VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) Eliminate repetition and irrelevant information Decide what belongs in the body and what belongs in the appendix Revise sentences for clarity and conciseness Use active/passive voice correctly Eliminate wordy phrases, jargon, cliches Edit for correctness: spelling, punctuation, grammar Edit for consistent voice in collaborative documents Use correct, sufficient citations B. Electronic/Multimedia Communication Email Choose appropriate tone Use relevant subject lines and file titles Organize content; use headings for long emails Put key information first Keep paragraphs focused and short Use highlighting that will work on different email systems Voice mail Limit length Begin with main point Repeat key information Speak slowly and clearly Tele - and Video-conferencing Check equipment compatibility in advance Identify speakers Present an overview Get frequent feedback Internet / WWW / Electronic presentations Create a web page, electronic document, or web survey Generate and manipulate graphics files VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) Organize text and tables using hyperlinks C. Graphical Communication Understand and evaluate tables and data graphics (e.g., graphs, charts, plots, maps, etc.) Extract the correct meaning from tables and data graphics Understand how a data graphic reflects author's purpose and practices in the discipline Recognize effective and ineffective tables and data graphics Identify presence and correct usage of best practices in tables and data graphics Use sketches, drawings, and photos effectively Choose correct amount of detail to accomplish purpose Label key areas and scale Avoid distortion Cite source; acknowledge manipulation of graphic or scale Construct useful tables and data graphics Label key parts Use accurate titles Know major graphic types: scatter plots; bar charts; histograms; pie charts; Gantt Charts Know when to use a graphic v. a table Choose the right data graphic to make a point Include all important data points Highlight key area(s) of table or graphic (e.g., using color, circles, arrows, etc.) Minimize ink; avoid unnecessary grid lines, legends, tables, formatting Avoid distortion Integrate graphics with explanatory text Interpret and construct technical drawings and renderings D. Oral Presentation and Interpersonal Communication Use effective presentation style VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) Face audience, not slides Make eye contact Avoid "uhm's" and "filler" words and phrases ("so," "right") Avoid nervous pacing or unnecessary gestures Highlight key points with hand gestures Control pace Speak clearly and with adequate volume Avoid monotone Do not block the screen Answer questions directly Use effective slide design Organize slides into a coherent whole Signal key sections and transitions Integrate headings, texts, and graphics Avoid slide overload Use adequate font size Use animations sparingly Avoid too much variation in fonts or colors Make presentation coherent from slide to slide Make each slide coherent Highlighting key points Use "talking" headlines - especially for slide presentations used as reports Use take-away boxes for highlighting also Prepare relevant handouts Listen actively E. Mathematical Communication 1. General mathematical and scientific communication skills VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) a) Communicate with clarity and precision, both orally and in writing, scientific/mathematical ideas and relationships b) Correct usage in written and oral communication of scientific and engineering terminology, phrases and equations, particularly those elements learned in a classroom/lab setting (implies i) Examples: 1) Articulate statistical and probabilistic concepts i) Mean, mode, standard error, standard deviation, etc. 2) Use of logic/Boolean algebra c) Understand and use scientific/mathematical language, symbols, equations and visual displays such as tables, graphs, plots, figures and diagrams d) Communicate medical ideas to engineers and engineering ideas to the medically trained e) Show familiarity with and understanding of mathematical and scientific symbolism utilized by the biomedical engineering industry f) Show familiarity with and understanding of mathematical and scientific symbolism utilized in biomedical engineering journals/publications, including publisher recommendations and i) Scientific constants and their respective symbols ii) Symbolism specific to sub-specializations, e.g., indicial notation in continuum mechanics g) Demonstrate an ability to articulate mathematical and scientific concepts in their own words i) Example: Gibbs Energy 1) What is the Gibbs Energy? 2) What is an expression for the Gibbs Energy? 3) Under what conditions, and in what situations, should it be used? h) Deliver an oral presentation using slides that explains and summarizes with precision and succinctness, complex biomedical ideas and concepts i) Understand the difference between the layman’s definition of a scientific term and its technical definition i) Examples: force, stress, strain, elasticity, work, heat 1) Students must understand the conditionalized usage of these terms j) Show the ability to conduct and articulate estimations and orders of magnitude calculations. 2. Understanding and presenting scientific evidence VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) a) Understand the scientific method and use it correctly to come valid scientific conclusions based on experimental evidence b) Structure an argument by: i) Selecting and using various types of reasoning and proof ii) Triangulating evidence iii) Persuading one's audience c) Understanding the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning in structuring an argument d) Formulate models and construct analogies that effectively communicate scientific ideas, including i) Promoting a qualitative understanding before moving toward a quantitative understanding ii) Establishing appropriate abstraction levels – e.g., starting generally and becoming more specific. iii) Having models draw upon analogies with which the audience is familiar. (requires an awareness of the audience on the part of the (1) Example: Free energy landscapes used in protein folding and iv) Understanding the robustness of the model (1) How applicable, flexible and extendable is the model? v) Employing “simplicity” in model expression (1) For example, does it link intangible, difficult to grasp concepts with tangible, easily understood concepts? vi) Recognizing equivalent expressions of the same concept (1) Is the model unique? Are there other equivalent models? vii) Converting one possible representation to another equivalent representation 3. Understanding and verbalizing mathematical ideas a) The ability to segue from mathematical to verbal to graphical communication of key mathematical ideas 4. Understanding and presenting the relationship between science and mathematics a) Use scientific and mathematical language and symbolism to communicate perceived interrelationships between scientific and VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) b) Express generalizations and analogies and formulate mathematical definitions c) Use connections among scientific and mathematical topics d) Use connections between science and mathematics and other disciplines 5. Presenting Information and Evidence with Visual Tools: Graphs, Plots, Tables, Diagrams, and Figures a) Understand the differences between a graphs/plots, tables, diagrams, and figures b) Understand and be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages or each type as a vehicle for communication c) Use sketches, drawings, and photos effectively d) Demonstrate the ability to select the appropriate visual tool (graph/plot, table, diagram, or figure) to communicate information e) Know major graphic types: plots, pie charts, bar charts, scatter plots, Gantt charts f) Understand and employ principles of graphical excellence, including i) Labeling key parts ii) Using accurate titles iii) Highlighting key areas of the tables or graphics (using color, circles, arrows, etc.) iv) Minimizing ink; avoid unnecessary grid lines, legends, tables g) Know and employ best practices in formatting, numbering, and captioning of tables, graphs/plots, diagrams and figures h) Understand and explain the power of using multivariate data i) Know the problems of scaling/distortion issues and how to avoid them j) Understand plots and their usage i) Single and multiple regression ii) Log-log and semi-log plots k) Understand statistical and probabilistic graphing/plotting and their usage i) Normal and log-normal distributions ii) Histograms l) Understand and use basic graph theory i) Definition of a graph 1) Nodes, edges, weights VaNTH Communications Taxonomy a (Last Updated: March 13th, 2006) 2) Decision trees 3) Graphical representation in 0,1, 2, 3, …, N dimensions m) Understand and use figures appropriately i) Appropriate use of physiological and medical schematics ii) Appropriate use and presentation of sketches in drafting and prototype design n) Understand and use diagrams appropriately to communicate general processes i) Appropriate use of flow diagrams, process algorithm diagrams, etc. a Acknowledgements: The VaNTH Communications Taxonomy is indebted to the CDIO (Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate) Syllabus developed by the Aero-Astronautical Engineering Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in collaboration with other CDIO partners (see www.cdio.org). The CDIO Syllabus carefully considers the general competencies outlined by ABET and was developed over a number of years with significant input from industry. The VaNTH CC taxonomy serves a similar purpose for a related audience—and thus has adopted structural categories and content from CDIO to allow for easier collaboration by educators involved in both groups. However, the VaNTH CC reflects the research principles that guide the VaNTH Engineering Research Center in Bioengineering and was written with the pedagogical principles outlined in How People Learn in mind (see Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 1999, and www.vanth.org). 1. General mathematical and scientific communication skills a) Communicate with clarity and precision, both orally and in writing, scientific/mathematical ideas and relationships b) Correct usage in written and oral communication of scientific and engineering terminology, phrases and equations, particularly those elements learned in a classroom/lab setting (implies i) Examples: (1) Articulate statistical and probabilistic concepts (i) Mean, mode, standard error, standard deviation, etc. (2) Use of logic/Boolean algebra c) Understand and use scientific/mathematical language, symbols, equations, and visual displays such as tables, graphs, plots, figures, and diagrams. d) Communicate medical ideas to engineers and engineering ideas to the medically trained e) Show familiarity with and understanding of mathematical and scientific symbolism utilized by the biomedical engineering industry f) Show familiarity with and understanding of mathematical and scientific symbolism utilized in biomedical engineering journals/publications, including publisher recommendations and i) Scientific Constants and their one-letter abbreviations ii) Symbolism specific to sub-specializations, e.g., indicial notation in Fluid Mechanics g) Demonstrate an ability to articulate mathematical and scientific concepts in their own words i) Example: Gibbs Energy (1) What is the Gibbs Energy? (2) What is an expression for the Gibbs Energy? (3) Under what conditions, and in what situations, should it be used? h) Deliver an oral presentation using slides that explains and summarizes with precision, yet succinctness, complex biomedical ideas and concepts i) Understand the difference between the layman’s definition of a scientific term and its i) Examples: Force, Stress, Strain, Elasticity, Work, Heat (1) Students must understand the conditionalized usage of these terms 2. Understanding and presenting scientific evidence a) Understand the scientific method and use it correctly to come valid scientific conclusions based on experimental evidence b) Structure an argument by i) Selecting and using various types of reasoning and proof ii) Triangulating evidence iii) Persuading one’s audience c) Understanding the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning in structuring an d) Formulate models and construct analogies that effectively communicate scientific ideas, i) Promoting a qualitative understanding before moving toward a quantitative ii) Establishing appropriate abstraction levels – e.g., starting generally and becoming iii) Having models draw upon analogies with which the audience is familiar. (requires an awareness of the audience on the part of the communicator) (1) Example: Free energy landscapes used in protein folding and docking studies iv) Understanding the robustness of the model (1) How applicable, flexible and extendable is the model? v) Employing “simplicity” in model expression (1) For example, does it link intangible, difficult to grasp concepts with tangible, easily understood concepts? vi) Recognizing equivalent expressions of the same concept (1) Is the model unique? Are there other equivalent models? vii) Converting one possible representation to another equivalent representation 3. Understanding and verbalizing mathematical ideas a) The ability to segue from mathematical to verbal to graphical communication of key 4. Understanding and presenting the relationship between science and mathematics a) Use scientific and mathematical language and symbolism to communicate perceived interrelationships between scientific and mathematical concepts, b) Express generalizations and analogies and formulate mathematical definitions c) Use connections among scientific and mathematical topics d) Use connections between science and mathematics and other disciplines 5. Presenting Information and Evidence with Visual Tools: Graphs, Plots, Tables, Diagrams, and Figures a) Understand the differences between a graphs/plots, tables, diagrams, and figures b) Understand and be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages or each type as a vehicle for communication c) Use sketches, drawings, and photos effectively d) Demonstrate the ability to select the appropriate visual tool (graph/plot, table, diagram, or figure) to communicate information e) Know major graphic types: plots, pie charts, bar charts, scatter plots, Gantt charts f) Understand and employ principles of graphical excellence, including i) Labeling key parts ii) Using accurate titles iii) Highlighting key area of table or graphic (use color, circles, arrows, etc.) iv) Minimizing ink; avoid unnecessary grid lines, legends, tables g) Know and employ best practices in formatting, numbering, and captioning of tables, graphs/plots, diagrams and figures h) Understand and explain the power of using multivariate data i) Know the problems of scaling/distortion issues and how to avoid them j) Understand plots and their usage i) Single and multiple regression ii) Log-log and Semi-Log Plots k) Understand statistical and probabilistic graphing/plotting and their usage i) Normal and log-normal distributions ii) Histograms l) Understand and use basic graph theory i) Definition of a Graph (1) Nodes, Edges, Weights (2) Decision Trees (3) Graphical representation in 0, 1, 2, 3, …, N dimensions m) Understand and use figures appropriately i) Appropriate use of physiological and medical schematics ii) Appropriate use and presentation of sketches in drafting and prototype design n) Understand and use diagrams appropriately to communicate general processes i) Appropriate use of flow diagrams, process algorithms diagrams, etc.

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