The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Archive: 02/07/2020

During the first 48-hour Sciathon hosted by the Council for the Nobel Laureate Meetings, Steve Acquah, the UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab Coordinator and Associate Research Professor of Chemistry, worked as part of a team (Group Clifton) to develop a science news verification tool, authentiSci (authentisci.com). The Clifton group became finalists at the end of June and were recently awarded second place in the category of ‘Lindau Guidelines’ and a shared prize of 1,000 Euros. AuthentiSci can be accessed through the website authentisci.com and will primarily be used through a Google Chrome Extension, which is now available at the Chrome Web Store. The extension is one of the first of its kind that gives scientists the ability to score science news stories, providing a measure of confidence for the reader.

The section of the Lindau Guidelines had the highest amount of competition, with 23 out of the 48 groups working on Lindau Guideline based projects. The other project sections focused on the topics Communicating Climate Change and Capitalism After Corona.

The extension was produced in response to the Lindau Guidelines introduced by Elizabeth Blackburn during the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting held in Lindau, Germany, in June 2018. To use the extension, scientists would authenticate through their ORCID account, insert a URL from a news story, and follow the prompts to evaluate the story on authentisci.com. With the extension now available, people from around the world will be able to see verified news stories.

Acquah produced a video during the 48-hour event highlighting the work of the team.

 “I thank the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and the judges for the opportunity to present our work,” says Acquah. “Our team will continue to develop authentiSci and support the communication of science news.”

Fifteen jurors decided on the finalists and winning project groups that presented their work during the Online Science Days to an audience of Nobel Laureates, Lindau Alumni, young scientists, young economists, and guests. The jury was comprised of scientific chairpersons of the Council, scientists, journalists, and friends of Lindau including:

Wolfgang Lubitz - Scientific Chairperson Chemistry, Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, Professor Emeritus, MPI CEC, Germany

Klaus Schmidt, Scientific Chairperson Economic Sciences, Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, Professor, LMU Munich, Germany

Hans Bachor, Secretary for Education & Public Awareness, Australian Academy of Science

Jürgen Kluge, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Andrew B Holmes, Melbourne Laureate Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne, Australia

Himla Soodyall, Chief Executive Officer, Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)

Andrew B Holmes, Melbourne Laureate Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne, Australia

Adeline Lim, Deputy Head, National Research Foundation, Singapore

The UMass Amherst Libraries announce the publication of a chapter, "Sharing the End of the World: Students’ Perceptions of Their Self-Efficacy in the Creation of Open Access Digital Learning Objects," co-authored by Lisa Di Valentino, Law and Public Policy Librarian, Sarah Hutton, Head of Student Success & Engagement, and Paul Musgrave, Assistant Professor of Political Science, as a part of the Rebus Community's Open Pedagogy Approaches, released at the end of June 2020.

The chapter presents their study on the impact of student-authored, open, creative scholarship on student confidence in understanding content and conceptualization of ideas as part of the final examination for Musgrave’s course, “The Politics of the End of the World.” The students were required to research, record, and release podcasts that explored major changes in Massachusetts history.

For this study, Di Valentino, Hutton, and Erin Jerome, Open Access and Institutional Repository Librarian, have been working closely with Musgrave to build out a course content site for his students' podcasts, hosted on ScholarWorks, the digital repository for the research and scholarly output of the UMass Amherst community.

Research results from this course were encouraging; basing questions on Bandura's model of self-efficacy and previous studies on open content created in courses using open educational resources (OER), the study asked students about their perception regarding how well they had learned the content, how confident they were sharing that content with a global audience, and how an open pedagogical model changed their approach to research and project management. Student feedback included that the course model made them seek out high-quality and accurate details for their podcasts, knowing that others could listen to them and they didn’t want to mislead anyone. Students said they conducted in-depth research in historiography, and also applied modern social science theory, allowing them to see the broader application of content. The findings have implications for more engaging course designs for undergraduate student learners.

The intent of this open pedagogical model is to teach students about Creative Commons licensing, open scholarship, and how they themselves become scholars over the course of producing, and openly publishing, these informative podcasts as a part of a renewable assignment model. By hosting these podcasts openly, future iterations of the course can build on previous research.

“We intend to work with students to help them develop and upload content, learning how repositories and open scholarship work,” says Hutton. “Learning about Creative Commons licenses, copyright, and fair use in their undergraduate career, these students will be better prepared to engage in global communications and scholarship in their professional careers beyond UMass Amherst.”