Telling the STEM Chapter of the Education Core Story

A Communications Toolkit

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Introduction

Welcome to Telling the STEM Chapter of the Education Core Story – a collection of framing research, recommendations, and sample communications designed to help leading voices explain learning in science, technology, engineering, and math in such a way that builds public understanding and will on STEM issues, while also supporting a broader reframed narrative about education as a public good.

This toolkit, sponsored by the Noyce Foundation, is intended to support communicators in framing the issues that surround STEM learning in both formal and informal learning contexts. It includes three main types of content:

  • Communications guides, intended as “job aids” to be used while crafting communications that align with FrameWorks research.
  • Sample communications, intended to be used in external communications. These include annotations that unpack the framing strategy being illustrated, so that the recommendations can be extended to new communications.
  • Links to research reports, intended to be used as reference material.

Users are encouraged to borrow the language in sample communications verbatim if desired– no citation or special permissions are needed – and also to feel free to adapt the examples to the immediate needs of a local communications context.

For 15 years, FrameWorks Institute research has demonstrated that effective communications can help activate the public’s engagement with complex social issues – such as the education reforms needed to meet the demands of a complex and changing world. This toolkit is based on the findings of the Core Story of Education initiative, a multi-method research project which queried the thinking of over 35,000 Americans. For more on the extensive evidence base that informs the recommendations in this toolkit, visit our website.


Writing credits: Julie Sweetland, Anna Trester, and Susan Nall Bales.
Design credits: Holly Valero, Rob Shore, and Chris Vo.

Key Framing Guides

Useful guides to keep communicators on frame.

Talking Points

Review the key messages and major themes for reframing STEM.

Message Cards

Download printable cards summarizing tested frame elements.

FAQs

Stay on message in the face of tough questions.

Swamp!

Visual summary of relevant findings from cultural models research.

Sample Communications

These materials apply the tested frame elements to communications opportunities such as editorials, social media updates, and program descriptions. They can be adapted to local contexts (for example, adding local references or site-specific information) or restructured for different formats (for example, repurposing an editorial as a blog post or public remarks.)

sample tweets
Sample Tweets
sample editorials
Sample Editorials
sample editorials
Sample Blog Posts

Metaphor Visualization

A 60-second animation of Weaving Skills Ropes, a metaphor that establishes skills as integrated and mutually reinforcing –“ rather than linear and hierarchical.

Research

You Have to Have the Basics Down Really Well: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of STEM Learning

This study examined expert and public perspectives on STEM education and informal learning, then compared these perspectives in order to “map the gaps” that exist between these groups – a map that can help STEM communicators navigate to more productive terrain.

Missing Matter: Holes in the Media Narrative about Informal and Formal STEM Learning

This study analyzed media coverage of STEM issues to characterize the dominant narratives and identify reframing strategies with the potential to expand the public discourse.

Narrative Holes in STEM Storytelling: A Field Frame Analysis

This study analyzed communications from organizations currently advocating for STEM education reform, identified three dominant advocacy narratives, and assessed the impacts of these stories on public thinking about STEM learning.

The Power of Explanation: Reframing STEM and Informal Learning

This multi-media MessageMemo summarizes the research base...range of informal STEM education issues.