The space in stories project: Engaging online using short fictional narratives

NASA probe

Abstract

The Space in Stories Project explored the process of creating web-based stories targeted at millennials, aged 18-30. Grounded in transportation theory, the project aimed to communicate space science and exploration (SSE) concepts via 3 bespoke examples of short fictional narrative (SFN). This study tested the short-term effectiveness of the SFNs in engaging millennials online, and effecting pre-existing attitudes and SSE literacy. Employing online pre-to-post-reading questionnaire surveys, this study applied quantitative paired t-test analysis to the attitudinal and literacy results of a volunteer sample of 13 millennials. Pre-existing attitudes towards SSE were found to be generally positive, although attitudinal results confirmed the null-hypothesis, where t=0, and no significant short-term deviation in pre-to-post-reading attitudes or beliefs was determined. Conversely, pre-to-post reading literacy results refuted the null-hypothesis, where t=2.18, and a significant improvement in short-term SSE literacy was determined, suggesting potential pedagogical benefits of employing online SFNs in science communication. Additionally, results suggested that more transported readers displayed greater acceptance and short-term recall of SSE concepts over those less transported individuals. Also, the more causal/prominent an SSE concepts within a SFN, the greater the acceptance and short-term recall of that concept or related facts, post-reading. Larger studies and more examples are called for to better explore the uses of fictional narratives in science communication.

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