Narrative is a useful representation for simplifying complex processes, and is one often used to convey science topics to novices. But that the content represented does not necessarily share the features of its representational medium may not be so obvious. For example, what meaning do novices make of natural selection from watching a cartoon? What do they understand of virology from reading a comic book? Motivating these questions is that an understanding of how people will read and misread scientific representations would allow us to design more effective educational interventions.
Most of the projects listed below were part of my dissertation, Narratives in Mind and Media: A Cognitive Semiotic Account of Novices Interpreting Visual Science Media. Together, they investigate the interaction between the narratives conveyed (whether intentionally or not) by a variety of media, and the narratives constructed within viewers' minds. In particular, they explore how viewers fill in the conceptual gaps left in the interaction between visual representation, perception, and prior knowledge.